In a first for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) since the attack on Malala Yousafzai, a grand tribal jirga condemned the murder attempt, offered prayers for the child activist, and announced support for the government in this regard on Sunday.
The Haleemzai tribe’s grand tribal jirga held at Sangar Ghallanai was attended by thousands. The Taliban attack had not been condemned publicly by any prominent individual or group in Fata until now.
Addressing the jirga, peace committee leader Muhammad Ali Haleemzai said that terrorists had destroyed schools and hospitals in the region and were working against their tribal customs, saying they wanted to push the people ‘back to the stone age’.
Haleemzai announced an alliance under the name ‘Qaumi Aman Tarron’ (‘National Peace Alliance’) to safeguard the region against terrorists and terrorism. He said the alliance would be extended to other tribes of the Mohmand Agency and invited all peace committees to participate. Haleemzai said all those involved in anti-state activity and terrorism would be punishable by a hefty fine and expulsion from the area.
Addressing the jirga, tribal leader Malik Hidayatullah emphasised that since the tribe has now announced support for the government, it is now the duty of the government to support the tribe as well. He demanded that the government work on development and provide compensation because of the troubles suffered by the militancy-hit region, including infrastructure damage and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Hidayatullah also lashed out against NGOs working in the area, alleging that vast amounts of foreign funding had been embezzled. He explained that by labelling certain regions ‘no go areas’, the NGOs could use the funds in any way without having to prove that any development has taken place in these regions with the allocated money.
The tribal leader demanded an inquiry into where these funds had disappeared, and pointed out that while the government has relaxed the collective responsibility clause of the draconian Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) law, it is yet to be implemented in spirit. Hidayatullah also called for the release of all those imprisoned in various jails without any solid evidence.
At the end of the jirga, Haleemzai prayed for Malala, calling her a ‘brave Pakthun girl’. The jirga was attended by all four major sub-tribes of Haleemzai, including Wali Baig, Hamza Kheel, Kadi Kheel and Kamali Haleemzai.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012.