Protests Against Army Operations in FATA | Q&A

Jan 2013
By M.A.

Inspired by the Hazaras of Quetta, Pashtuns convened in front of the Governor’s House in Peshawar with the bodies of 18 people killed in an army operation carried out in Bara, a sub-division of Khyber Agency. The bodies have since been confiscated by the army and police, but the protestors continue their sit-in, this time in front of the Peshawar High Court.

Tanqeed speaks to Safdar Dawar, the President of the Tribal Union of Journalists. Dawar, who lives in Peshawar, but belongs to North Waziristan Agency, gives us an update of the protests, and his take on why the army atrocities in Pakistan’s tribal belt get little coverage.

Tanqeed: What is the Bara dharna (sit-in) about?

Safdar Dawar: Protestors are demanding an immediate cessation of army operations in Bara. The army typically attacks people in the area, and many people, who are innocent, get killed. In this case, an an entire family was wiped out–18 people were killed. The family convened in front of the Governor’s House yesterday, refusing to bury the bodies of their loved ones until their demands are met.

TQ: What is the status of the protest right now?

SD: The protestors are now sitting in front of the Peshawar High Court.

The first person to visit the protestors was Member of the National Assembly, (MNA) Hamidullah Jaan Afridi. Afridi is also the Federal Minister for the Environment. The people killed in the army operation were members of the Afridi tribe, and they were angry that attacks were being carried out against their people while he was an MNA. The negotiations between Afridi and the protestors started, but by the end of it his guards attacked the protestors.

Next, the Governor (Syed Masood Kausar, Pakistan People’s Party, ed.) visited the protestors. He told the protestors that he would pull back the army and stop the operations, but the protestors didn’t believe him. They wanted a guarantee, and they wanted it from the army. They didn’t feel that a politician would be able to issue those sorts of guarantees.

They continued to sit through the night, but armed forces and the police paid them a visit. At night, the army and the police fired at them and carried out a lathi charge (hit them with sticks). They confiscated their bodies and handed them over to a government official.

This morning, the protestors decided to sit in front of the Peshawar Press Club. They are demanding a return of thee bodies. And as you might have seen in the news, the police decided to carry out another lathi charge against them.

Now they are sitting in front of the Peshawar High Court.

TQ: Could you give us some background on the army operation in Bara?

SD: This army operation has been going on since 2008. It is unclear how many people have been killed in the army operation. They claim that terrorists are being killed, but many innocents have died.

TQ: As President of the Tribal Union of Journalists, what is your take on the coverage given to this sit-in–and other issues in the tribal areas–by the mainstream media?

SD: Because of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), there is no freedom of the press in the tribal areas. We do not have our own media outlets. As journalists, we mostly work with provincial or federal news agencies. That is why there is, by large, little or no interest in issues from the tribal areas. Look at all of the interest given to the murder of Shahzeb Khan in Karachi–there is hardly any coverage given to our issues. If someone decides to cover it privately, then stories come out. But otherwise, the mainstream media remains silent.

We demand freedom of the press in our areas, and the right to open our own media outlets.

Safdar Dawar informs Tanqeed of another set of protests currently underway in North Waziristan. An army helicopter shelled a home of families who are members of the Dawar tribe in Khasu Khel. 2 women, 2 men, and 2 small children have been killed–an additional 10 people have been injured. The Dawar tribe has closed down Mir Ali bazaar, and Mir Ali Thal Road. The protest is ongoing.

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5 Responses to Protests Against Army Operations in FATA | Q&A

  1. Zia Ur Rehman on Jan 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Here is my April piece to understand situation of militancy and military operation in Khyber Agency

  2. Muhammad Hanif Baloch on Jan 2013 at 4:24 PM

    It was observed that in all Pakistan and specially in khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan injustice is increasing day by day. There is a question that why injustice is increasing, Simply the answer is there is no rule for check and balance of use of authority of law enforcement forces and they don’t care and don’t get any fear to country’s Courts, and also in Pakistan’s law system to getting the “”Justice is a Dream like””. Achievement of justice is so difficult in Paksitan’s legal system
    I myself seeking justice in my lovely son’s death case, My Late Son Abdul Hakeem Baloch who was a Journalist in Urdu newspaper Daily “”Tawar””, Geo News, Express News, and at the death time he was a media Assistant in USA Consulate Karachi, He always wrote in newspapers articles about public issues.
    My son Hakeem Baloch was died on 01-12-2011 by negligence of Doctors of Karachi Adventist Hospital (Seventh Day Hospital Karachi) He was only 27 years old, A intelligent boy. My son ever is in my heart. The deaths due to negligence of doctors also must be inquired and such kind doctors must be punished.
    Muhammad Hanif Baloch ( Lyari Karachi ) “

  3. ایاز ملک on Jan 2013 at 4:35 AM

    احمد فراز صاحب نے ضیاء دور میں اپنی سدابہار نظم ‘پیشہ ور قاتلوں تم سپاہی نہیں’ میں یہ شعر کہے تھے:

    آج سرحد سے پنجاب و مہران تک
    تم نے مقتل سجاۓ ہیں کیوں غازیوں؟
    اتنی غارت گری کس کے ایمان پر ہے
    کس کے آگے ہو تم سر نگوں غازیوں؟
    کس شهینشاۓ عالی کا فرمان ہے
    کس کے ذمہ ہے یہ کشت و خوں غازیوں؟

    افسوسناک بات یہ ہے کے آج اسی احمد فراز کا سگا بھائی صوبہ خیبر پختونخوا (سرحد) کا گوورنر ہے اور پھر بھی اس یزیدی فوج کو نہتے شہریوں پر ظلم کرنے سے روکنے میں بے مکمل طور پر یار و مددگار نظر آتا ہے.

  4. […] Source: […]

  5. Drone victim abducted and tortured on Mar 2014 at 12:26 PM

    […] mainstream media is complicit in this suppression as they ignore the voices of the people of FATA. In response to these circumstances, organizers in Toronto have launched the Campaign Against […]

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