SHABQADAR: Tribal elders threatened to protest against the political administration of Mohmand Agency over the decision to fine them following the murder of nine khasadar personnel.
The decision was taken at a jirga held at a compound in Ekka Ghund. Jirga members also demanded equal compensation for the families of the slain khasadar personnel. Elders from Burhan Khel and Qasim Khel tribes attended the proceedings.
On February 18, militants attacked and killed at least nine security personnel in two separate attacks in Lower Mohmand Agency. They first attacked two khasadar personnel who were guarding a solar-powered tube well in Darwazgai, Ekka Ghund. The deceased were identified as Bilal Khan and Taj Mali Khan. Before escaping, the militants set a motorbike on fire.
Following the attack in Ekka Ghund, militants attacked a khasadar paramilitary force check post at Khrapa Pass on the Mohmand-Peshawar highway in Pandyali tehsil.
The attack left seven Khasadar personnel dead. They were identified as Zakir Khan, Anwar Khan, Multani Khan, Murad Khan, Naseer Khan, Farhad khan and Ibne Ameen Khan.
Initially, officials did not provide details about what may have happened beyond the death toll and the names of the victims.
Subsequently, the political agent fined the elders of the Burhan Khel and Qasim Khel tribes Rs1 million each in connection with the incident under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulations.
The funds have been deducted from stipends provided to khasadar officials and allowances for development initiatives.
A large number of tribal elders at Monday’s jirga said the nine khasadar officials were “the sons of our tribes”. They criticised the government for imposing a fine on tribespeople instead of announcing a compensation package for their families.
“This is an injustice on the government’s part,” one of the speakers said. “In other parts of Pakistan, when [a similar incident] occurs, a huge amount of money is provided to the families of victims as compensation.”
According to the speaker, only Rs0.3 million has been paid to each family of the khasadar personnel who died in February. “This is less than what the family of a civilian receives when he or she dies in a militancy-related incident,” he said.
The speaker said a large number of khasadar personnel who have died in the line of duty are “not proxies” and are entitled to receive a stipend from the tribe for their services.
The tribal elders urged the political administration to provide a feasible compensation package to the families of the nine khasadar officials and waive the fines imposed on both tribes.
If their demands are not fulfilled by April 14, they will boycott the political administration and take to the streets in various parts of Mohmand and Peshawar.
Up in arms
Shopkeepers in Bajaur Agency took to the streets on Monday against the suspension of cellular services over the past three weeks.
They said the decision to suspend mobile services has resulted in countless difficulties for people. Many families cannot get in touch with their loved ones who are living in other parts of the country or abroad.
Shopkeepers have complained that their businesses have been negatively affected by the decision. They have urged Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and the corps commander to ensure cellular services are restored in the agency.
The agency has 32 cellular towers in the agency. Around 11 of them are operational in Khar and surrounding areas. The remaining are non-functional at this stage as a no-objection certificate has not been received by the relevant authorities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.