Peace in Kurram Agency

Published: February 12, 2011

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata asad.munir@tribune.com.pk

Sectarian hostility in Kurram Agency dates back to the British era. Muharram in Parachinar has not been a peaceful event for many years now. Before the advent of sectarian organisations, like the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad, sectarian conflict was common in Kurram Agency. Intertribal issues such as distribution of water, cutting of wood and denial of road access, ultimately morphed into sectarian conflict. Minor conflicts were witnessed almost every year, while major sectarian clashes erupted in 1982, 1996 and 2007. The Iranian revolution, the entry of Sunni Afghan refugees and the influx of lethal weapons during the Afghan jihad are some of the factors contributing to the intensity and frequency of sectarian violence.

In the 1982 sectarian clashes more than 60 Shia families were displaced from Sadda, a Sunni dominated area and they were forced to migrate to Parachinar, a Shia dominated area. In 1990, a jirga gave a verdict for the resettlement of displaced Shias and the return of their property. However, this decision was never implemented. By 2006, the Taliban had penetrated the Sunni areas of central and lower Kurram. Local Taliban, controlled by the Taliban of South Waziristan, emerged in these areas. In April 2007, participants of a Sunni procession in upper Kurram, raised objectionable slogans against Shias. The Shias reacted and took out a protest procession in Parachinar. Some people fired on this procession and this led to sectarian clashes, which spread to other parts of the Agency. In November 2007, violence erupted again after unidentified people attacked the central mosque in Parachinar, where Sunnis were offering Friday prayers. Hundreds of people from both sects were killed during these clashes and 40 villages were destroyed. More than 3,000 families were displaced. The Thall-Parachinar Road remained closed for almost four years.

A grand Jirga comprising of representatives from all tribal agencies as well as the parliamentarian from Kurram, was constituted in 2008. With the efforts of the Jirga, the Murree Peace Accord was signed by the warring factions in October of the same year.

There were elements within and outside the agency, including the Taliban, who never wanted this accord to be implemented. As a result of hectic efforts, the opponents of the accord were brought on board and the main issue of opening the Thall-Parachinar Road has been resolved, raising the hopes of locals about having a lasting peace in the area.

Both sects have signed a number of peace accords in the past, but these were violated. Only time will tell whether this accord, will bring lasting peace to the Agency. The extent of suffering the people have endured, the huge losses incurred and the duration of this conflict, are some of the reasons which may force the people from both sects to honour this accord. Sectarian conflict may not disappear all together, but the accord may help in preventing violence on a large scale.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2011.

Reader Comments (7)

  • Awan
    Feb 12, 2011 - 10:22AM

    Very Excellent article by Mr. Asad, as always. Comprehensive article that contains a lot of information.Recommend

  • Shabir
    Feb 12, 2011 - 11:18AM

    Well written piece that prove of writer’s great knowledge.Recommend

  • zarin
    Feb 12, 2011 - 12:30PM

    @Asad Munir, If you compare your previous article with this one and look into the ground realities with neutral and humanitarian point of view, it is very much clear that it was the game of spy agency where you werte working. They are the KHARTA DHARTA of the area and they flare up fire and then arrange to break peace.
    Murri agreement was signed 2 years ago but now they want to immplement to create a safe passage to Haqani network. In fact this deal or peace in not only for the peopeles but to protect Haqani network. You may also know that the final seal on thi agreement was put by Fazle Saeed Haqani and who is he? a puppit of your previous department. Recommend

  • Zahir Sha
    Feb 12, 2011 - 2:22PM

    There are two types of conspiracy theorists;one who blame RAW,MOSSAD,CIA,HANOOD,wa YAHUD ,for all the ills, this country is plagued with.The second are those who think ISI has a role in all dirty games played in Pakistan.Terrorist do not use Thall-Parachinar Road.They are crossing the border at different places,but none is through Parachinar.The 4 years sectarian war, never stopped their activities.The local Taliban interfere in Kurram internal affairs,the others normally do not.The sectarian issue is unlikely to be resolved,however steps could be taken to prevent violence.Recommend

  • Ejaz Bhatti
    Feb 12, 2011 - 2:33PM

    There is so much of bloodshed and violence in the Tribal areas.How could Imran Khan idolize Tribal and jirga System?Recommend

  • observer
    Feb 12, 2011 - 9:14PM

    @zarin

    I think you have voiced a valid concern here. What are the terms of this peace? There has been a statement from TTP saying that the violators of the agreement will be punished according to shariah.It may be noted that the peace is not to be enforced by the Pakistani State according to the laws of the land but by TTP according to their interpretation of shariah. Are we witnessing the development of another Swat which was also handed over to TNSM and TTP for implementation of shariah.Recommend

  • Innocent
    Mar 3, 2011 - 7:55PM

    Asad Munir, can you please tell me that who had selected the date 23 March for Qarar e daad e Lahore.(yaum e Pakistan) The date 14 august was selected by Lord Mount Beton and that movement he had the event of surrunder of German army at Singapur only.please dont think that i have asked a stuiped question from you. This question will disclose many secrets for failure of economic foreign and interior policy of our beloved country..Recommend

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