Burying us Alive in Bara

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It is time for the military to own up to its mistakes. Tell us what is going on. It’s ok if you blundered, but it would be suicide if you don’t admit your crimes and correct your strategy. 

It doesn’t matter if there were 15 bodies or eighteen or thirty-two. It should not take so many deaths to wake us. Had these people died for a cause—had they been martyrs—we would be proud and tolerate the sacrifice. But it isn’t clear to us why they are dead. It isn’t clear to us why they were murdered. It isn’t clear to us how long we must suffer such crimes.

Urban Pakistanis and those in other parts of the country are charged up when the Americans or the Indians fire at us, but hardly an eyebrow is raised when our very own soldiers mutilate us. The killings at Bara in Khyber Agency by the security forces and the killings in Quetta by Islamists backed by our security forces are just the tip of the iceberg. Rashid Khan AurakzaiIt has only made the news thanks to the courageous people who brought their dead on the street and protested. The Hazara sit-in at Quetta proved contagious. The patience of Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas has also finally run out. In both cases, we now need proper leadership, vision and direction. Political parties, for reasons known only to them, sit back and watch as opportunist forces twist these great uprisings for their own interests.

The Pakistani state uses FATA. It uses the area and portrays it as a breeding ground for militants to milk the US for billions of dollars in coalition support funds. Both militaries—the American and the Pakistani—have strong strategic interests. Some on both sides of the Durand Line believe that none of the military is interested in peace. Knowingly or unknowingly, the Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) are part of the same imperialist project.

Pakistani’s Islamists and right-wingers are obsessed with what they see as the foreign hand in FATA and Balochistan. There is a total information blackout from FATA since 2002. Many independent journalists have lost their lives in mysterious circumstances; their families and colleagues accuse the state’s powerful secret agencies.

The Background to Bara

Bara is a case study. The Pakistan operates in Bara, a sub-division of Khyber Agency, and enacts strict curfews. The trouble began when Haji Namdaar, a Bar Kambarkhel Pashtun belonging to the Afridi tribe, founded the Amar Bil Maroof movement (Vices and Virtues movement) named for a Qur’anic commandment in Tirah valley after returning from Saudi Arabia. It was 2003: the US had occupied Afghanistan and, in response, the NWFP and  Balochistan had voted a religious right coalition of parties, the MMA, into power in their provinces. Namdaar’s movement also found support in Bara.

By 2004, Namdaar had teamed up with the deobandi hardliner, Mufti Muneer Shakir, originally from Karbogha, Hangu. Mufti Muneer had been expelled from Kurram Agency for straining sectarian differences among Shias and Sunnis. (A glimpse of his ideology can be seen here.)

In Bara, Mufti Muneer set up an illegal FM broadcast, proselytizing a strict interpretation of the Qur’an. When the two allies developed differences, Muneer was ousted and welcomed by the Malakdinkhel Pashtuns where he resumed his preaching. To counter Muneer’s strident attacks on Barelvi beliefs, another FM radio station was set up, this time by an Afghan, Peer Saif ur Rehman who belongs to the Islamist group Ansar ul-Islam. People became charged, polarized and pitched against one another. Finally, a jirga, with the help of the local political agent, expelled them both from Bara. Read on >>

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6 Responses to Burying us Alive in Bara

  1. […] in the dead of night and their relatives dead bodies forcibly taken from them. Rashid Khan Aurakzai delivers a devastating critique of the government and the Pakistan […]

  2. Irfan Khan on Feb 2013 at 5:19 AM

    Harsh and apt questions raised. Army has to answer the questions raised. Why has the army failed to curb militancy even after military operations being conducted for the last 9 years? Is the army complicit and is it incapable of protecting the citizens of the country?And if military operation is not the solution then find a durable solution to get rid of this menace and stop the blood shed of the Pukhtoons; who are as equal Pakistani’s as anybody else.

  3. mehrin on Feb 2013 at 1:33 PM

    your verbosity and the attempt at instigating the ethnic pride of pashtuns and thus leading them towards a wrong and biased thinking pattern will surely fulfill your purpose of degrading the military, the state and in a way go to the level of supporting the terrorists’ cause.you have yourself described how a one man show by a KSA returnee, turned into a potent terrorist force and ultimately led to armed battles between various factions…all with the help of the very locals of that area. People like you were actually sleeping at that time and now they are busy in distancing the masses from the military without cognizant of the facts. you have raised many issues in your article………in my opinion few of the reasons for the current situation are as follows: religious intolerance,the fact that pashtuns live and die for their traditions and religion has transformed into a tradition, madrassas from opposing religious factions functioning in the area, hosting of absconding terrorists from other militancy hit areas and Afganistan by the locals, failure of the govt in understanding the tribal culture and devising means to deal with it, bringing the military by the civil administration to operate in such areas once the situation has gone real bad, and so on……
    Bara Killing Facts:- It is a proven fact that militants have successfully blended with the locals of Bara and even have gained sympathies of many locals.When the killings took place, a simultaneous operation was in progress in the area.the troops present at Dogar post were out in the area fighting against the terrorists.In a preplanned way the terrorists killed and mutilated the innocent people and then moved their sympathizers to manipulate the grieved relatives to protest with the dead bodies of their dear ones ……the brazen faced terrorists just wanted an end to the military operation in Bara and have heartlessly used the sentiments of the locals to their own ends…………….I hope that will serve you and one more thing ….you have very wrongly portrayed the death of levies soldiers to create hatred in the locals and have not mentioned so many other such accidents which have happened to the Army,FC and Police.God help you…..

  4. Rashid Aurakzai on Feb 2013 at 7:58 AM

    When was the last time you were in Peshawar or talked to any native from Bara, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai or Waziristan, Mehrin. Cool down and answer the questions instead of telling tales. Start from anywhere since 1947 and we shall prove how not the military is behind Pakistan erosion. Like it or not, there is only one party and one state in Pakistan and that it the military.

    Why did the military let militant close road to Parachinar for more than three years for Shias, who had fought bravely against the TTP. The same roads were open for the military itself and it has a cantonment in Parachinar as well. Bibi, Baat niklay ggee tau pher dooor talak jaye ggee but I advise you read the last paragraph again. It’s not about blame game here. Today, the tribes are suffering, tomorrow it shall be Islamabad and Karachi and the next day it could be Lahore. Remember the story of the boy who called wolf.

  5. […] Source: http://www.tanqeed.org/2013/02/burying-us-alive-in-bara-rashid-khan-aurakzai/ […]

  6. […] Burying us Alive in Bara […]

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