PESHAWAR: Mehsud tribes of South Waziristan Agency announced on Saturday that they were ready to return home and evict Taliban miltants and their sympathisers from the region if the government suspended a draconian British-era law for a year.
The announcement was made at a grand assembly of tribal elders, or Jirga, of three sub-clans of Mehsud tribe at the Political Agent’s office in the Tank district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Last year hundreds of troops, backed by heavy artillery and air power, moved into South Waziristan to fight militants loyal to the outlawed Tehriki- Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Hundreds of tribesmen were displaced as a result of the military operation, codenamed Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation).
Elders of Mehsud tribe showed their commitment to abide by the Frontier Crimes Regulation and jointly work with the security forces to purge the area of Taliban insurgents and their sympathisers. Attendees at the tribal assembly included Senator Maulana Muhammad Salih Shah, Malik Masood Ahmad, Malik Rapa Khan, Maulana Esamud Din, Malik Azizullah, Malik Banoot Khan and more than 200 elders of three sub-clans of the Mehsud tribe.
Addressing the Jirga, the tribal elders said that their kinsfolk were willing to return to their homes in South Waziristan, if the government suspended the Frontier Crime Regulations for one year and compensated the tribesmen for their losses. They expressed their concerns on the government insistence on raising armed tribal legions, or Lashkars, to fight off Taliban insurgents in their areas. The tribal elders said that the Mehsud tribe had rendered countless sacrifices for the sake of the motherland.
“We will stand side by side with security forces to safeguard the country from any internal or external threats,” they added. Speaking on the occasion, South Waziristan’s Political Agent Syed Shahab Ali described the Mehsud tribe’s decision to return home as a “significant development”. He held out an assurance that the political authorities would not leave them at the mercy of militants in South Waziristan. However, he said the tribesmen would have to abide by the territorial responsibility clause of the FCR. He warned that the authorities would not allow anybody to create unrest or run a parallel administration in the agency.
He said the political authorities would devise a strategy for the return of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to South Waziristan and Mehsud tribesmen would also be consulted. The political authorities also set the tribesmen four conditions including handover of 378 wanted militants, complete ban on display of heavy weapons in the area, ban on sheltering foreigners and also ban on running a parallel juridical and administrative system in the agency. The Jirga was adjourned to allow both sides to hold more discussions on the matter.
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