Tribesmen from the Atmanzai clan of the Wazir tribe staged a protest against US drone strikes in Miranshah, North Waziristan’s headquarters, on Thursday.
According to locals, around a hundred protesters marched through Miranshah Bazaar in a procession against the highly unpopular strikes which have, for the larger part, targeted this tribal region.
Protesters were led by Nura Jan and Mohammad Sufian, who in their speeches demanded an immediate end to these unilateral strikes in the agency. They said that the drone attacks kill innocent tribesmen – including women and children – and not the militants that are supposed to be targeted.
The speakers also denied presence of the Haqqani network on the soil of North Waziristan, asserting that the agency had never sheltered the al Qaeda-affiliate outfit and US allegations of its existence in the agency were “white lies”.
The tribesmen demanded that North and South Waziristan should be given the status of a province, proposing the name Islamia for it. They also demanded provisions of natural gas supply to the agency from the Gurguri gas field and said that they have a right over these resources.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudary was asked to take suo motu notice of the fact that no one from North Waziristan had ever been elected for their the Fata seat in the upper house of parliament.
The tribesmen pointed fingers at the Pakistan Army for the Sunday crackdown in Miranshah and condemned it. They said that these crackdowns were unjustified since no militant attack had taken place at the site.
However, they added, they will not allow the peace deal between the agency and army to collapse despite the army’s attempts at sabotaging it.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2011.