The Assassination of Life and Liberty in ex-FATA

Their cry went far away, in fact farther in the wasteland. It was heard everywhere and by everyone. Very few dared to stand by the men who stood for freedom, human rights, equality, civilian supremacy and peace above all. Everything they had and could afford in the awakening of dead beats was a cell phone with camera and cellular network. Their depressed faces with nonviolent struggle not only jolted some big national screens but also received universal support and humanistic sympathy across the globe. The children, the teenagers, the women, the elders, the poor, the wealthy, the maimed and the healthy, all suffered equally. At the end their inner power declared ” No more tolerable “. They changed their self to change their lives. They dissented, truly and appropriately.

The story of tribal people is hard to believe yet very true and heart-touching. Their demands are candid enough to stand by. Their life miserable enough to feel for.

The annihilation of Fata and its transformation into a terrorists’ hub was highly systematic in its nature. After the demise of Taliban regime in Afghanistan at the hands of US forces in 2001, the Taliban residues fled Afghanistan and were warmly received by their political and financial backers, the ISI, in Pakistan. They were populated in the frontier regions. With their arrival came a terrible wave of social, religious and economic changes. In the long run, some won, many lost. Hundreds of thousands were killed, wounded and forcefully disappeared.

The first impact their arrival marked was the Talibanization of local people. The warmongering commenced. The juveniles were forced to take up arms or be killed. What subsequently followed was the organized genocide of nearly 2000 tribal elders who defied the callous conduct of local authorities and Talibanization of neighborhoods. In extremity, militants did not only continue the devastation of markets and houses but also burnt the crops and starved the livestock to death. Even the doors, windows and bricks were sold by the men in uniform (sometimes partially uniformed). Their tales of plundering are rarely known and discussed.

For decades, the downtrodden and oppressed people of ex-FATA were kept away from politics. Military operations, state sponsored militancy, tribal feuds, illiteracy and FCR had become major hindrances in their way to accomplish “one man, one vote” dream. Except the later, the rest stay in effect till this day. Negligence on the part of their new provincial setup and government has only added to the adversaries. The prejudiced and bigoted dealing of the top civil and military leadership is unforgiving and unforgettable.

For nearly two decades, Military and para-military forces in collaboration with militants continued to kill, harass and abduct the very few left settlers who did not abandon their abodes or refused to be participants in the proxy wars. Others became IDPs and faced the uninvited vicissitude of fate.

20 years later, the death of Naqeebullah Mehsud (a tribal youth aspiring to be model) by an SSP in Karachi marked the end of their Tolerance. Tens of hundreds of people came out on roads and protested. They finally set up a set-in in the Capital city, Islamabad. They were assured by the then government and Chief of Armed forces that their grievances were valid and would be heard seriously. One and half years later, no one has yet heard them and nothing has changed. Several human rights activists have been killed and abducted. Public representatives are jailed. The dissidents have been tortured by the police and sleuths. Political parties and leaders are threatened not to side with them.

By now, it has been more than three months that Pakistan Army attacked the unprotected and unarmed civilians who were crossing KharQamar checkpost in South Waziristan. The incident of Killing 13 and wounding more than 45 was followed by the imprisonment of two democratically elected representatives of Former FATA. Entitled to be traitors and anti-state, they pass their nights in Haripiur Jail. Their taking oath in the National Assembly to be loyal to the state and its constitution could not help them prove their loyalty. Unlike other imprisoned members, their production orders are yet to be released in order to attend the sessions of legislative assembly. Due do partial curfew in the area, the masses of Waziristan face extreme shortage of food and health care facilities. No judicial commission has come into formation to investigate the matter. The bereaved families have not been compensated. Provincial Government has imposed Section 144 and banned the entry of outsiders in the tribal areas. No one comes in and No one goes out. Cellular networks are disconnected. The whole region now belongs to the mighty Army.

Intelligence agencies are hunting those social media activists who record the protests and  highlight the acts of indecency taking place in tribal areas. There is a complete media blackout. The so-called civilian government has capitulated at the hands of MILITABLISHMENT (Army and spy agencies). It has become a dead heat.

The bad news is that the people in power try to exert their pressure through inhuman and violent means; threaten them, abduct them, torture them, and at the end, kill them extra judicially.

The good news is that the oppressed people are coming together to fight the oppressors. They are non-violent and fight their battle with Pens, Cellphones and peaceful protests. They seem to be more charged, physically energetic and psychologically prepared.

Sincerely asking, Will silencing the dissidents help? For sure not. Government can (if it desires) and should (as it has to) engage the people of ex-FATA in fair negotiations in general, the leadership of PTM in particular. There is nothing in confrontation for both the parties however a lot in cooperation. Killing and Jailing won’t help, negotiating will.Torturing is not an option, facilitating is. As Amal Clooney, a Lebanese Human Rights activist, has rightly said that “Locking up dissenters does not reduce dissent – it fosters it.”

The suppression of dissent will maim our social intellect. For the men in power, It was easy to kill Prof. Arman Luni but his death immortalised him. It was easy to bare PTM leadership from speaking at public gatherings but their story of courage, determination and sacrifice has become the talk of town. They are being idealised in every corner of globe. For them It was easy to abduct and torture SSP Tahir Dawar for siding with truth but they did not know that his assassination will make him a Hero. Every-way, they have lost at the hands of armless Pashtuns. Their sugar coated lies cannot and will not confront the naked truth.

Ex-Fata should no more be treated as a military camp and base for proxy wars. The “Guys” and their “good guys” have to stop pillaging the tribal areas. Human rights violations must come to an end. The rule of law should prevail.

If not, the economic repression and exploitation, in long run, will invoke the wrath of innocent people. And then things will happen in a different way.

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Ehsan Kakar Written by:

Secular and Humanist. Love reading.