15 February, 2010

Rah-i-Nijat : Jirga bungles

TANK, Pakistan -- A high-level jirga of the Mehsud tribe failed to reach agreement with the government on handing over more than 300 militants before a lasting peace is restored in South Waziristan.

Some 400 leaders of the Mehsud tribe met Political Agent Shahab Ali Shah, the ranking government official of South Waziristan, in Tank, North-West Frontier Province, February 10. The tribal leaders said they would not hand over 378 militants, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud to the administration until peace is restored. Hakeemullah is reported to be dead.

The tribal elders stressed the government must ensure the return of thousands of displaced Mehsuds before it can expect co-operation from them.

The February 10 jirga was the third on this issue in the past two months.

Government officials in charge of restive South Waziristan wanted the Mehsud tribesmen to abide by the Collective Territorial Responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation to protect their territory against Taliban insurgents.

Under the regulation, officially designated tribal elders (Maliks) must help establish peace and take punitive action against miscreants when the government asks. These elders in return receive privileges from the government.

Two earlier meetings also ended inconclusively; officials have set another jirga for February 20.

Sources in Tank told Central Asia Online that Shah made it clear to the Mehsud elders that a military operation against the Taliban and foreign associates was imperative after the collapse of earlier peace deals with militants.

Courtesy : Central Asia Online

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