PESHAWAR: In the wake of a non-violent, non-political and peaceful sit-in in Islamabad which continued for around 10 days, armed forces announced a wide range of changes and shifts in policies towards tribesmen from all over the tribal belt.
According to ISPR, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa issued orders that people would no longer be asked to produce Watan Cards, which were issued to Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs), at check posts for identification purposes but their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) would suffice. Allowing the use of Watan Cards till May 18, he said that those without CNICs would be allowed to use Watan Cards until they get their CNIC.Tribesmen in particular and other Pakhtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Karachi, during their long sit-in in Islamabad raised a united voice against injustice, misuse of power and harassment by the security forces. They alleged that security forces were involved in extra-judicial killings of arrested or detained persons throughout the region. They also highlighted the mistreatment of civilians, politicians and academics by personnel of armed forces on check posts.
Representing the tribesmen who staged a sit-in in Islamabad following Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extrajudicial murder by a police team led by Rao Anwar in Karachi, a delegation led by Mohsin Dawar called on General Commanding Officer (GOC) Major General Azhar Abbasi of Miranshah on February 15. The delegates of Pashtun Protection Movement (PPM) held detailed talks with the GOC and informed him about the hardships faced by the tribesmen.
The delegates informed the GOC about the thorough body search, identification parade and the mistreatment of tribesmen on check posts by the personnel of armed forces. They also informed him about the arrests and enforced disappearance of tribesmen on the charges of links and relations with militants.
Responding to the complaints of the tribesmen, the GOC announced an end to thorough body search and identification parade on all check posts. Only those entering or leaving North Waziristan would be searched for the possession of illegal items, especially explosives. No one would be asked to step out of their vehicles and would be required to prove their identity from within the vehicle. There would be a CPO at each check post to listen to the complaints of the people. All complaints would be sent directly to the GOC and would be addressed in no time. The GOC would also monitor the check posts through CCTV cameras.
The GOC also asked the delegates to submit a detailed list of the missing persons and all those who are in custody in North Waziristan so that the innocent amongst them could be freed as soon as possible whereas those who were accused of a crime or were found guilty would be produced before the traditional jirga who would then make decisions in accordance with the FCR. The GOC also assured them that he would approach General Headquarters (GHQ) to learn about those who are held in custody outside of North Waziristan.
The GOC announced the opening of Pak-Afghan border at Ghulam Khan for bilateral trade from March 1. He also announced that there would be no ban on political activities, gatherings and processions. No Objection Certificates (NOC) for starting the business in markets established by the armed forces would be issued shortly without any payment and outsiders serving in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) would be replaced by local tribesmen. Development activities in the far-flung mountainous region of Shawal which connects North Waziristan with South Waziristan and Afghanistan would be started soon and the route issue with tribesmen from Kurram Agency at Tehsil Shewa would be resolved soon.
Similar changes and developments were announced for other tribal agencies and regions.