Tribesmen protest against Kurram Tangi Dam

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Amidst drums and traditional dance called ‘Athanar’, dozens of tribal elders from Shewa Tehsil of North Waziristan on Monday continued their protest in Peshawar against the construction of proposed Kurram Tangi Dam.

The tribesmen from Kabul Khel clan of Utmanzai Wazir tribe took to protests after the signing of an agreement between Pakistan and United States to construct a dam on December 14, 2016.

According to the agreement, the US government will finance Kurram Tangi Dam, which happens to be just on boundary between North Waziristan and Bannu District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The US government agreed to provide 81 million US dollars for the construction of dam which will irrigating over 16,000 acres of barren land of Bannu and Lakki Marwat districts, along with generating 18 MW of electricity.

Faqir Mohammad Sultan, who is leading the protest, told Voice of America that the dam was going to affect around 400,000 people. He recalled that tribesmen headed by his late father migrated to Afghanistan in protest when the then government started work on the same dam site in late 1960s. Later, the protesting tribal elders returned on the assurances of government.

The tribal elder said that they will not allow construction of the dam at the cost of their displacement and urged the government to review its decision.

During the day-long protest in front of Peshawar Press Club, tribesmen wearing traditional dresses and turbans also took to traditional ‘Athanar’ dance from time to time, presenting a much needed respite to the weary eyes and ears.

Other than these protestors, people from all over North Waziristan are also demanding their early repatriation and re-allocation of their residential and commercial properties. Not all affectees of operation Zarb-i-Azab, also termed Temporarily Displaced People (TDPs), have been rehabilitated. Some 37-40 per cent of displaced tribesmen have yet to be repatriated.