Why didn't Peshawar celebrate Eid?
If Syria and other civil war-ravaged states could opt for a ceasefire during Eid, then why couldn’t Pakistan?
Fringed by continued military operations, residents on one side of the Khyber Agency question their fate of being tribals, separated by a wall called Shah Kas, which was constructed by a martyred police official, Malik Saad, to halt heavy drug trafficking.
I was in Phase 5 of Hayatabad, Peshawar, which borders the Khyber Agency, during my Eidul Azha holidays, when I heard the sound of artillery, automatic machine guns and rocket launchers. It was at that moment that I imagined the level of anxiety children in the conflict zone must be facing. Hearing the sounds of mortars all through the four sacred days, I could only think about the children.
If Syria and other civil war-ravaged states could opt for a ceasefire during days of tranquillity, then why couldn’t Pakistan?
Somehow, I managed to visit the agency through Shalober Road, an extremely risky area. There, I saw that most of the children barely had any clothes, let alone warm clothes.
Muhammad Hafeez, who lives in Bara village, drew a sketch of the miserable life of the people living in the agency and said,
“We do not know what mistake we have committed for which we are facing such days. We always rendered sacrifices for the country; we don’t deserve sitting on roads, waiting for aid like beggars.”
Another resident, named Gulab Adam Khel, said in anguish,
“Unfortunately, we are being deprived of our basic rights by being displaced from our homes. Instead of observing Eid, we are seeking sacrificial meat as ‘khairaat’.”
I tried to talk to one of the soldiers deployed in the agency but failed. I contacted an army official based in Peshawar to talk about the miseries of the people living and fleeing from there. He could not give me any solid reasons behind the continued military operation, even during the sacred days of Eid. He termed it part of a civil-military strategy which was not to be made public.
According to Article 1 of the Constitution, tribal people have equal rights like those living in the settled parts of the country. However, the direction taken by our civil-military leadership towards our tribal people seems to be the opposite.
Needless to say, I could not enjoy my Eidul Azha and probably won’t in the future either, unless the plight of the tribal people is eliminated.
Read more by Sumera here of follow her on Twitter @sumrkhan