Pakistani tribal elder Malik Jalal, centre, flanked by newsmen addresses a news conference to condemn the recent US drone attack in North Waziristan which killed over 40 people, March 18, 2011 in Peshawar. — Photo by AP

PESHAWAR, March 18: Reacting to the deadly drone attack on a traditional jirga in North Waziristan Agency that killed 40 civilians, the tribal elders on Friday announced waging jihad (holy war) against the US and its allies.

Speaking during a hurriedly called press conference at the Peshawar Press Club, head of the North Waziristan Peace Committee Malik Jalal Sarhadi Wazir described Thursday’s drone attack as a barbaric and inhuman act against innocent people. He urged the tribesmen to stand up against the atrocities of US and its stooges, who had been indulging in the worst form of human rights violation.

“We have allowed our youth to carry out suicide attacks on Americans and we will show to the world how to take revenge for the atrocities on our tribesmen,” the tribal elder said and added that they were now compelled to wage jihad against the US and its agents sitting in the country.

Rejecting reports about the presence of al Qaeda and Taliban in Fata, Mr Wazir said that there was no safe haven for militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He said that the American administration itself had endorsed the presence of about 70 per cent al Qaeda top leadership in Afghanistan.

He said that several missiles were fired from drones on a peace jirga in Datta Khel, North Waziristan, on Thursday, killing 40 innocent civilians and injuring 50 others.

“We will take revenge from the US and its allies as our people are mourning everywhere in the entire Waziristan due to the attack,” the tribal elder said. He also criticised the coalition government and termed it equally responsible for the bloodshed in parts of the country.

Flanked by several tribesmen, including Malik Faridullah and Malik Niaz Daraz, Mr Wazir said that the tribesmen would not sit silent over the barbarism of the allied forces and that they would start a jihad for taking revenge from the Americans and the ‘corrupt rulers of Pakistan’. “We are patriotic Pakistanis, but we are being forced to take up arms under a well-planned conspiracy,” he said and claimed that Haqqani and Gul Bahadur groups had no presence in the tribal area. He regretted that the government did not bother to show any reaction to the continued US drone attacks and the killing of innocent tribesmen, including women and children.

The tribal elder urged the media to avoid negative propaganda against tribal people in an attempt to appease the US and its allies. Blackwater operatives are behind sabotage acts in the country, he said and claimed that the rulers were protecting them. “We want justice and we will not accept dollars as blood money for our dead,” he said. Mr Wazir stressed the need for expelling US operatives from the country and said the tribal people would no more remain silent on drone attacks.