PESHAWAR: Over recent weeks, social media in Pakistan has been rife with unverified reports on alleged harassment of a family by security personnel in Khaisor village in North Waziristan’s Mirali tehsil.
The matter surfaced after a video by a 13-year-old Khaisor resident, Hayatullah, went viral on social media. In the video interview, the boy claimed security forces had picked up his father Jalat Khan and brother Adil and that the family was still facing harassment due to frequent visits by two security personnel.
Accusing the security personnel of repeatedly entering his house unannounced, he requested the authorities concerned to stop the unwanted visits.
'PTM supporters want to see Pakistan as a failed state'
The issue was also played up by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) at its protest rallies across the country and Hayat’s father, Jalat Khan, returned home soon after.
Following weeks of uncertainty over veracity of the incident, details have now started emerging casting a new light on the matter.
The ‘real’ Khaisor story
According to sources familiar with the developments, it all started with the kidnapping of Zahidullah, an employee of Mari Petroleum Company Limited (MPCL), on October 12, 2018. The MPCL worker was abducted by Hayat’s elder brother, Shariatullah, and remains in his custody somewhere in the mountains of Waziristan.
Shariatullah was also responsible for the October 23 murders of three other MPCL employees and one Frontier Corps soldier, who were shot dead and their bodies set on fire in Spinwam tehsil of North Waziristan.
Pashtun activist arrested for making anti-state speeches in Karachi
On October 24, a day after the bodies were found, security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation and raided Shariatullah’s house in Khaisor. The sources said Shariatullah managed to evade arrest and fled into the nearby mountains with the abducted MPCL employee, Zahidullah.
The sources said the raid was conducted in the presence of a local elder and Hayat’s maternal uncle. While Shariatullah fled the area, security forces arrested his father, Jalat Khan, and brother, Adil, who they accused of acting as accomplices in Zahidullah’s abduction since the hostage was kept at their house.
PTM makes its move
According to the sources, a member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, Noorul Islam, approached Shariatullah’s family on January 18 this year – months after the raid and arrests of Jalat and Adil.
He persuaded Hayat to record the video against security forces by telling the boy that it would ensure some relief for his father and brothers. Just days after the video started circulating, the PTM started organising protests aimed at raising anti-army sentiments among locals.
As the video and other unverified, provocative reports spread on social media, an inquiry was ordered by local security officials to ascertain the facts of the incident.
The sources said members of Hayat’s family, including two uncles and another brother Irfanullah, and other locals were contacted for details of the incident, while tribal elders and other close family members remained involved throughout the process.
Rubble of a madrassah is all that is left of Haqqanis in North Waziristan
They said Hayat’s mother even signed an affidavit – verified by tribal elders – denying previous allegations of harassment.
Soon after, Jalat Khan was released and handed over to the Uthmanzai jirga, while Adil was interrogated by members of the inquiry board.
On January 26, the Uthmanzai tribe held a grand jirga in which the tribe rejected the use of social media and the agitation caused by non-locals, namely MNA Mohsin Dawar and PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen. The jirga also decided to investigate the matter.
Then, on February 2, a second jirga was convened in Miranshah which was attended by 61 tribal elders and several district administration officers. The jirga concluded that all allegations against security forces were baseless and were propagated by a select few to further their vested interests.
After the Miranshah jirga, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) and all members of the jirga visited Hayat’s residence. They spoke to the family about the issue and urged them to ensure safe recovery of the abducted MPCL employee, Zahidullah.
They asked the family to convince Shariatullah to release the hostage and surrender to security forces.