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Talks over Bara killings remain inconclusive

January 22, 2013

LANDI KOTAL, Jan 21: The negotiations between Khyber Agency political administration and a tribal jirga remained inconclusive on Monday as tribal elders refused to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring peace in Bara Bazaar in case it was reopened.

Malik Waris Khan, a jirga member and former MNA from Bara, told Dawn that they were not in a position to guarantee peace in Bara under the collective territorial responsibility clause of Frontier Crimes Regulation.

“If the government with all its resources and military might could not restore peace in Bara during the last three and a half years of military operation, how could tribal elders shoulder such a big responsibility,” he said after the conclusion of the jirga’s meeting with political agent at his office in Peshawar.

A 50-member jirga comprising tribal elders, members of various political parties and representatives of local traders held a three-hour long meeting with the administration in the aftermaths of the killings of 18 tribesmen in Alamgudar area of Bara on January 15.

The jirga demanded of the political administration to reopen Bara Bazaar along with some important link roads, stop artillery shelling, release all innocent persons held during the military operations, announce compensation for the victims of Alamgudar incident and form a judicial commission to investigate independently the killings of the 18 tribesmen.

Assistant Political Agent Mohammad Nasir told Dawn that the administration agreed to form a judicial commission, pay Rs700,000 compensation to the family of each victim of Alamgudar incident and release all innocent residents of Bara held during the operation.

He said that the judicial commission would be announced soon by the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to probe the incident.

Mr Nasir said that the administration sought suggestions from the jirga regarding reopening of Bara Bazaar. He said that step in that regard would be taken only when the jirga put forward its constructive and practical suggestions.

About artillery shelling, he said that Political Agent Mutahir Zeb assured the jirga members that he would take up the matter with inspector general of Frontier Corps and other military authorities.

The jirga members expressed concern over the killing and injuring of innocent people, mostly women and children, in artillery shelling by security forces during the ongoing military operation.

Shah Faisal Afridi, a young member of the jirga, however, expressed optimism that they would succeed in bringing back peace to Bara. He said that Khyber Agency political administration was also sincere in its efforts to restore peace in the area and pave the way for reopening of Bara Bazaar that had been closed since September 2009.

He said that restoration of peace was a responsibility of the government. “The government must not forget that nearly 30,000 families are out of Bara and it is almost impossible for the people of the area to shoulder this important responsibility,” he added.

The jirga will meet on Wednesday to devise a strategy for the reopening of Bara Bazaar. The jirga will put its suggestions before the administration on Thursday.

Dawn has learnt on god authority that few members of the jirga have established contacts with some important commanders of the banned militant outfit Lashkar-i-Islam to seek their support in reopening of Bara Bazaar and ensuring its security. It was also learnt that the administration advised the jirga members to consult Shalobar Peace Committee to ensure security of Bara Bazaar. The bazaar is situated in the area of Shalobar tribe.

Meanwhile, MNA Hamidullah Jan left for Islamabad on Sunday night to participate in the National Assembly session and muster support of Fata parliamentarians for his proposed All-Fata Jirga.

The efforts of the MNA, however, have angered some members of the Bara jirga. They have accused him of hijacking their efforts in highlighting the Alamgudar incident both at national and international level.

“How will he (the MNA) succeed in convening an All-Fata Jirga when he himself is not on good terms with Munir Orakzai, the parliamentary leader of Fata lawmakers, and Federal Minister Shaukatullah,” Malik Waris Khan questioned.

He said that the MNA distanced himself from the efforts made by the Bara jirga and also didn’t participate in the protest, held by the relatives of Alamgudar victims in Peshawar on January 16.