Originally published in Express Tribune Blogs
Parachinar was once paradise on earth but it has been burning in the fires of terrorism for years. The prices of commodities have sky-rocketed, poverty has made life hellish, and hospitals lack medicines and facilities. All roads leading out of the area are blocked and there is little communication with the outside world. Life has been paralyzed.
The entire area is rife with aggressive sentiments in response to extremism – revenge, rebellion and sectarianism. Situations like this can cause revolutions that have the potential to shake even stable countries.
Nine years in to the war on terror and tensions in Fata have not abated nor have any big wig terrorists been caught. As a result the geographically important frontier region, which has always been key to the security of Pakistan, is at great risk. People here are unable to cope with this situation any longer.
People sometimes ask me, “Is there no issue other Fata? Why do you persistently write on the same subject?”
I bow my head, as my eyes fill with tears and whisper:
“What is new for me? All my pains, wounds, troubles and grievances are elderly and infinite. My area has been facing these circumstances for decades and nothing can guarantee it strength. How can I conceal my sighs while my hometown is in a permanent war of sectarianism and terrorism? My alma mater, the hospitals where my illnesses were cured, the college where I studied, the roads on which I have travelled, the springs from where I quenched my thirst with clean water, the rivers in which I swam and caught fish, the valley where I heard the melodies of birds, the hills and meadows where my cattle grazed, and everything that nurtured my childhood and youth – everything that was exquisite – my area is now bruised and stained with the blood of innocent people. How can I breathe peacefully?”
I ask for nothing more than the rescue of human life, peace and tranquility in Fata and fundamental rights which human beings enjoy in civilised democratic societies. This is what is for my hometown and in each town of the area.
The people of the tribal areas will never pardon Ziaul Haq, a heartless and spiteful dictator who turned their serene area into a breeding ground for terrorism producing armed combatants for prepared fot merciless slaughtering. Prior to him, the people in FATA lived with their precious culture and friendly traditions, strange as they may be. They had great enthusiasm for advancement and modernization. But the military dictator planted hatred in their hearts by setting up terrorist camps there in the name of so-called jihad or holy war.
The authority terrorists have gained in the area of Charpi Morr, Totkasa, Tor Ghar, Sadaa tehsil (of the lower part of Kurram Agency) and in Hangu, can be gauged by the fact that the Thall-Parachinar road has been hazardous for residents of Parachinar for the last three years. They have often come under attack in Afghanistan and on the Thall-Parachinar road.
Time and again men, women and children from Parachinar have been attacked, kidnapped and tortured. Whenever these terrorists kidnap people, they torture them ruthlessly by cutting off their noses, ears, limbs and feet prior to beheading them after which they either throw the bodies in to open fields or send them back to their hometowns. When the people of Parachinar receive the mutilated dead bodies of their near and dear ones they become aggressive and violent. Consequently, the area comes under continual war of sectarianism. Clashes between residents of Parachinar and the Taliban have resulted in thousands of casualties with irreparable damage to the basic infrastructure of this earthly heaven.
Roads out of Parachinar have been blocked for the last three years and whenever they do open some calamity takes place. The Toori tribe has diplomatically and repeatedly raised the issue before the government but so far nothing has been done.
It would seem that the present government is uninterested in Parachinar even though both Shaheed Z.A Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto loved the area and its people. They both personally visited Parachinar as Prime Minister’s of Pakistan and initiated progress and stability programs in the area. Before her martyrdom Benazir Bhutto had affectionately promised locals that she would make Parachinar a heavenly place to live once again.
The PPP government is making amends with Balochistan through the Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan package. It is addressing the vulnerabilities of women and the poor through the Benazir Income Support Program and has brought the country on the path to democracy with the 18th amendment. It had empowered the people of Gilgit-Baltistan with the tremendous Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009.
Now, it is time the Government of Pakistan take essential steps for the rehabilitation of the tribal areas – ignored for 63 years, the people face miserable conditions and lack basic human rights. These people believe that only the Pakistan People’s Party can comprehend their tribulations and take up their cause.
Every day, terrorism worsens with no possibility of light at the end of the tunnel. The government must take immediate action for the rescue of Parachinar as the area is at the edge of geographical risk.
The Pakistan Army continues fierce measures, in Swat and throughout the tribal area – similar needs to be taken against miscreants around the Thall-Peshawar road. The army is highly valued and esteemed by the people of Parachinar and is always greeted warmly in the valley for the peace process and protection they offer the surrounding border.
The people of Fata have fought, shoulder by shoulder with the Pakistan Army in every war of Pakistan. These are not tribesmen who are launching attacks, killing innocent people and fighting against the army but miscreants and terrorists.
Riaz Toori is a worker of PPP from Pakistan’s tribal area