A grand jirga of tribal elders in the Mamond tehsil of Bajaur Agency has raised a 500-strong tribal militia to safeguard their area against cross-border raids by Taliban insurgents based in eastern Afghanistan.
Any tribesman found sheltering or harbouring militants would be expelled from the region and his house would be burnt down, the jirga decided.
Tariq Khan, the assistant political agent for Nawagai sub-division, assured the tribesmen that the government would support them in every possible way. He appreciated the sacrifices rendered by local tribesmen for the restoration of peace in the region.
Khan called Taliban insurgents enemies of Pakistan as well as of Islam. He called upon the jirga to keep a vigilant eye on the movement of the Taliban and deal with their sympathisers, if any, sternly.
The chieftain of the Mamond tribe announced support for the government in its fight against militants. He said that local peace committees would increase patrolling to make sure militants do not sneak into Mamond tehsil.
Tribesmen set up checkpoints
In the neighbouring Upper and Lower Dir districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, another jirga decided to set up checkpoints along the border with Afghanistan to stop infiltration of Taliban militants.
Officials of security forces, elders of Sultan Khel and Painda Khel tribes and Lower Dir’s District Coordination Officer (DCO) Mehmood Aslam Wazir attended the jirga held at the Warhi Technical College, Upper Dir.
Commandant Dir Scouts Col Kamran told the jirga that militants wanted to sabotage peace in the region. He called upon local tribesmen to monitor movement of militants and report it to the local administration.
The jirga assured the security forces of their support in maintaining peace in the region.
DCO Wazir told journalists after the jirga that his administration has plugged the Pak-Afghan border to stop infiltration of militants in the district.
Lower Dir is a sensitive district because of its proximity with restive Bajaur Agency and militant-infested northeastern Afghanistan
“Afghanistan-based militants have been trying to mount cross-border attacks in the region,” Wazir said. “The number of check posts along the Pak-Afghan border has been increased, which resulted in a marked decrease in cross-border raids by militants.”
The initiatives by tribesmen came 11 days after Taliban insurgents crossed over from the Afghan province of Kunar, took over Batwar village in the Salarzai tehsil of Bajaur Agency and mounted attacks on Pakistani security checkpoints.
Security forces claim to have cleared most parts of the Batwar village of militants – but pockets of resistance still remain. Fighting has virtually emptied the village as thousands of local tribesmen have fled fighting to safe locations elsewhere in Bajaur Agency.
(With additional reporting by our correspondent in Dir)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.