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Militants, drone attacks make life difficult in tribal areas
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April 01, 2011
The Tribal Areas people have been passing through a tough time for the last twelve years due to militant activities and drone attacks by the CIA-operated drones. The situation got worse when a drone fired missiles on a jirga in Datta Khel district of North Waziristan, killing 37 people, mostly tribal elders and Levis officials. The area has been used as a base by the militants belonging to al-Qaeda, Pakistani Taliban, Punjabi extremist outfits, and the Haqqani network – a wing of the Afghan Taliban regarded by the US as one of the most dangerous threats to the coalition forces battling insurgency in the neighboring Afghanistan.

The target appeared to be a compound operated by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a North Waziristan Taliban leader who in the past struck peace agreements with Pakistan but also provided safe havens to the militants belonging to al-Qaeda and other terror groups. Four missiles were fired by the drone on a building with about 50 people inside. According to analysts it was highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens, including the elders of the area, was callously targeted with complete disregard for human life.

The first drone attack in the tribal region took place in the year 2004. According to a rough estimate, 120 drone attacks took place alone in the year 2010. While in the current year, 20 drone attacks took place in which dozens of innocent people have lost their life. Last year in September, an agreement between the Shia and Sunni tribal leaders brought peace to the agency through the efforts of some parliamentarians. The agreement led to the opening of roads to the general traffic after a gap of four years. The agreement brought a sigh of relief to the area people. Khurram Agency borders Afghanistan, Khyber Agency, Orakzai Agency and Waziristan.

Hundreds of people from both sides have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced due to fighting in recent months. According to the agreement, both sides will vacate and hand their bunkers over to the security forces in their respective areas. The agreement will pave the way for the return of around 700 displaced families to their homes. The main road between Kurram Agency and Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier province, has been re-opened to traffic. The security forces will be responsible for the security of the road. The government had failed to end fighting in Kurram Agency.

Unluckily, the ink of the peace agreement had hardly dried when a bus carrying Shias was targeted in the agency. Eight persons were killed and five others sustained injuries when gunmen opened fire on two Parachinar-bound passenger vans in Dad Qamar village in the lower part of Kurram Agency. Five women and seven children have been recovered while a search operation is in progress for the recovery of other kidnapped persons. A convoy of passenger vehicles was on way to Parachinar from Peshawar when the gunmen ambushed the vehicles in Dad Qamar village near Bagan Bazaar in Sadda Tehsil, killing eight persons and injuring five others. The gunmen set on fire a vehicle and took away three other vehicles. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, militants sneak from across the Afghan border to carry on activities in the Pakistan-administered areas. He said the federal government was fully cooperating with the local Jirga for establishment of peace. He said a handful of militants could not destabilize peace. The head of the TTP Kurram Agency Fazal Saeed has announced full support to the Islamabad peace agreement adding that if someone violated it then action will be taken accordingly. It is a worrying factor for everyone that the militants are targeting public places with each passing day affecting the life of the people.



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