The Kurram tribal district is tense after the hard-fought peace there was shattered when two tribes clashed over the ownership of a strip of land, leaving 15 people dead and 30 others injured.
Efforts to restore peace through a jirga failed after one of the tribes involved in clash demanded that the release of their tribespeople.
A top district administration official, who requested not to be named, said that the clash began on June 29 when the Para Chamkani tribe began construction on what they believed was community-owned land.
The Balishkhel tribe objected to this and claimed that residents of Para Chamkani had encroached upon their land, which is locally called ‘Shamilat’, near the Sadda area of the district, he added.
The conflict then descended into an armed clash, leaving 15 dead, including a paramilitary official identified as Wajid Yousafzai, from the Mardan district.
The official said that the dispute is not just about the disputed ownership of land but has an element of sectarian conflict as well, while this is the first major armed clash in the area after the armed militancy and sectarian conflict, which plagued it for much of the last decade, ended.
Kurram district Deputy Commissioner Shah Fahed, while confirming the clash and the casualties, said that the administration is working to reinforce a ceasefire and maintain peace in the area.
Meanwhile, locals told The Express Tribune that local elders and the district administration had organized a Jirga between the warring tribes to settle the conflict.
The peace-making attempt failed after one of the tribes insisted that a ceasefire will not come into effect until their people - who were arrested by the authorities for participating in an armed clash - are released.
Separately, the local authorities called in paramilitary forces to maintain the law and order situation in the area as the warring tribes continued to use heavy weapons to target each other intermittently. Security forces have been patrolling the main roads and movement has been restricted, locals informed.
Further, the authorities have closed the Thal-Parachinar Road for all kinds of traffic which have added to the problems of locals.
The Kurram tribal district has a documented land settlement record which was planned before partition.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2020.