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Defence bodies for Kurram villages

December 24, 2012

PESHAWAR, Dec 23: The political administration of Kurram Agency has planned to form some 1,400 village defence committees with special focus on militancy-affected central sub-division of the valley to block resurgence of militants in the area, officials said.

Political Agent Yousaf Rahim told Dawn that the proposed plan had been sent to the Civil Secretariat, Fata, in Peshawar for approval and these committees would operate under the supervision of local authorities.

Kurram Agency, adjacent to the Afghan border and having strategically important location, comprises three sub-divisions; upper, lower and central. The officials said that dynamics in upper sub-division were different and therefore this part of the tribal agency did not require such arrangements.

“Most of these committees would be established in central sub-division of the area which remained a safe haven for local and foreign militants,” said an official, who stated that local authorities were waiting for the secretariat’s response.

The proposal was tabled after the security forces declared that central sub-division had been cleared from banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s supporters. The officials claimed that the state writ had been restored and civil law-enforcement agencies, including Frontier Corps and Levies Force, were replacing army, gradually.

They said that location and terrain of central Kurram was very difficult and in present circumstances it was not possible for the local administration to ensure the state organs’ presence in the area owing to lack of roads.

“The administration will have to rely on local people,” said one security official, adding that mandate of these committees would be to check activities of suspected elements and assist the administration in maintenance of law and order.

Under the proposed plan, the government would provide arms and ammunition to the committees and Rs3,500 monthly honorarium to each of their members, it is learnt. Each committee would have 10 to 25 members to be recommended by local elders.

The government has already established peace committees in other tribal agencies, including Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, South Waziristan and parts of Frontier Regions. In other agencies, according to the officials, monthly honorarium was not paid to the members of peace committees.

They said that the pattern and role of defence committees in Kurram would be slightly different from those in other agencies of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). They said that in other areas the political authorities concerned had enhanced financial incentives of local tribal Maliks who were supporting government’s action against militants instead of paying honorarium to volunteers of peace committees directly.

The idea of defence committees in Kurram was conceived on the pattern of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies where local authorities had formed peace committees to fight against militants side by side with security forces.

Several volunteers and tribal elders leading Lashkar against militants have lost their lives in targeted killing and bomb attacks.

An official in Fata Civil Secretariat said that peace committees had played a proactive role against militancy in parts of Fata. He said that such committees assumed responsibilities in many areas where the security forces had completed operations.