August 6, 2022
By Adnan Bitani
NORTH WAZIRISTAN: A sit-in, organized by the Utmanzai, Wazir and Dawar tribes of North Waziristan, against target killings in the district has now completed three weeks of continuous protest.
Demonstrators have also called for an immediate crackdown on militant groups and organizations, who they claim are responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in the region.
Following a failure in August 2 talks with the local administration regarding security for the locals, locals on August 3 initiated a protest in Datta Khel, Degan, Ghulam Khan, Mir Ali, Shawa, Miran Shah, Razmak and Spin Wam areas of North Waziristan on order of the Utmanzai Qaumi Jirga.
All major roads and markets in these areas have remained closed since August 4, while transporters observed a wheel-jam strike today. Demonstrators have also blocked entry and exit points in North Waziristan, disrupting traffic.
Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen, on a visit to the area, expressed solidarity with the protesters and announced that the movement would remain a part of the sit-in until all demands were fulfilled.
Utmanzai Qaumi Jirga member Dr. Gul Alam Wazir stated that the jirga was forced to take such drastic measures due to the security situation. He added that Utmanzai leaders, political and social organizations and businessmen are all united in their call for peace in the region.
“We were promised peace before, but the government never followed through on these promises,” he stated. “People of all segments of society are being killed under a nefarious plot, and we will not allow Waziristan to be turned into a war zone.”
Dr. Wazir further added that the protests will continue until the government provides adequate assurance to the locals of lasting peace in the district.
Deputy Commissioner of North Waziristan, Shahid Ali, stated that negotiations with the protesters are still ongoing since the first week of demonstrations. He further provided that a jirga consisting of political leaders from Bannu and Lakki Marwat districts are to convene today to discuss the terms of agreement on the government’s behalf.
Ali had previously stated in a press conference three days ago that five individuals people involved in the murder of Qari Samiuddin, Qari Nauman and four members of the Waziristan Youth Organization were been arrested, however no evidence of the accused’s involvement was provided to the media during the briefing.
On August 5, security sources shared a video of five people, alleging that the individuals seen in the footage were the same accused involved in the aforementioned target killings in the district. However, it was not mentioned whether the suspects were produced before a court. Furthermore, details as to the time and circumstances of their arrests are also unknown.
Malik Rabnawaz, another member of the Utmanzai Qaumi Jirga expressed his distrust of the government’s commitment to establishing peace in North Waziristan.
“Rather than just the government, tribal leaders, elected representatives in the national and provincial assemblies, human rights representatives, political parties and the judiciary should all guarantee lasting peace in the area, and ensure that no more security lapses occur in North Waziristan,” he stated.
He provided that protests in North Waziristan first began when, following Zarb-e-Azab, targeted killings continued to occur in the area.
“People say that it all went to the dogs after Zarb-e-Azab. 480 people have been killed so far in targeted attacks,” he said.
Government officials also admit that in 2022, 63 people have been murdered in target killing incidents, with Mir Ali area being the most affected.
According to Deputy Commissioner Shahid Ali, 105 terrorists have been killed and while 204, including accomplices, have been arrested in joint operations carried out by the Pakistani Army and the police in the last three months. A total of 42 police and army personnel have lost their lives in these missions.