After a five-year hiatus, tribal elders in Ghallanai, the headquarters of Mohmand Agency, decided to revive a jirga system in the area against anti-state elements on Monday.
In an address to tribal elders, Mohmand Rifles Commandant Colonel Mushtaq Hussain said that the role of jirgas had been minimised after the insurgency in 2007.
The commandant explained that members of the jirga would resolve
disputes between tribesmen in the agency, and also convey messages and demands of the tribesmen to the political administration in the area.
Colonel Hussain urged the tribal elders to refrain from paying extortion money to militants, adding that Frontier Corps (FC) personnel in the agency had blocked off all entry and exit routes -- a step that would make it difficult for militants to carry out their activities.
The commandant also warned that certain people were working as double agents siding with the government during the day and helping militants at night. “We have to frame a strategy to curb terrorism and have to start a survey for the whole agency,” Colonel Mushtaq told the tribal elders. So far, he said, 129 FC personnel have died in the agency.
The commandant vowed that the security forces would raise the issue of cross-border militant incursions with Afghan officials, especially with regard to target killings and attacks.
During the gathering, Haleemzai tehsil peace militia chief and tribal elder Muhammad Ali opposed the Political Parties Act, and demanded that political administration officials fulfil their duties the way they expected peace militias and jirgas to fulfil theirs.
Tribal elder Malik Haji Saeed Mehmood Jan complained that the government was implementing policies and laws which contradict the jirga system and interfered in the tribal customs. He said this was the reason that a power vacuum, or gap, was filled by others, referring to militants.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2012.