Bara jirga again fails to make headway
LANDI KOTAL, Feb 12: The talks between a jirga of Bara elders and officials of political administration are proceeding at a snail’s pace as no concrete decision could be made on Tuesday when they met for the fourth time after the killing of 18 people in Alamgudar area of Bara on Jan 15.
The jirga had earlier demanded formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Alamgudar incident, compensation for the affected families, opening of Bara Bazaar and all link roads, lifting of curfew, release of all innocent people arrested during the military operations and end to targeting of houses of tribal people in artillery shelling.
The administration had in the recent past released about 24 arrested persons alongside securing compensation for the affected families but the thorny issues of halting artillery shelling, opening of Bara Bazaar and formation of a judicial commission are still unresolved.
“No substantial headway could be made in today’s parleys except that the political agent reiterated his old promises of finalising a list of innocent prisoners for their early release, approaching the new governor for formation of an inquiry commission and asking the jirga members to propose recommendations for opening Bara Bazaar and some important roads,” said a member of jirga, requesting anonymity.
He said that administration was still persuading Bara elders to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring peace at Bara Bazaar if security forces were withdrawn from there. “Had we been so powerful to guarantee the security of our area, we would not have left our own houses,” he said, terming the official proposal as ‘ridiculous’.
Bazar Gul Afridi, another member of the jirga, told Dawn that the administration proposed to them reopening of Shalobar as a test case and bringing back the displaced persons to the area on the condition that the elders would guarantee security of their area under the collective territorial responsibility clause of Frontier Crimes Regulation.
He said that an eight-member committee comprising former federal minister Malik Waris Khan, Awami National Party provincial senior vice president Imran Afridi, Ikhtiar Badshah, Maqbali Khan, Asghar Afridi, Hashim Khan and Said Ayaz would put forward their suggestions regarding the proposal of political agent on February 25 when jirga would meet again at Khyber House.
The jirga members, however, expressed satisfaction over a considerable reduction in firing of mortar shell by the security forces after the Alamgudar incident.
But sources in Bara told Dawn that security officials have once again asked people to vacate their houses and shift to safer places as authorities had ordered targeting militant hideouts in different parts of Bara.
Sources said that commandant of the forces had conveyed to them through messages that they should help in preventing militants from carrying weapons in residential areas so that residents could not be harmed during search operations.