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June 24, 2014

Indefinite curfew in NWA as evacuation deadline expires

June 24, 2014

PESHAWAR: Following the expiry of the deadline given to the local tribesmen in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) to leave their homes and villages by Monday, the government clamped a curfew in the entire tribal region on Monday afternoon, paving the way for launching a major ground offensive against the local and foreign militants.
According to the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), 430,000 tribesmen had so far fled the tribal region.According to the government officials and tribal sources, a number of people were stranded in different areas of the NWA due to a host of reasons.
After the expiry of the deadline, the local administration announced a curfew in the tribal region for an indefinite period. It informed the tribesmen to avoid travelling on the main roads or coming out of their homes.
Government officials in Miranshah and Mir Ali said that the tribal region started presenting a deserted look after the completion of the evacuation process of the people.The government had given the last chance to the tribesmen to vacate their homes and villages till Monday, as the armed forces were reportedly going to launch a major offensive in the tribal region.
Government officials said that despite a warning to the tribesmen, some of the residents in Hasukhel, Haider Khel, Mosaki, Zaraki, Khadi, Mama Khel, Epi, Hurmaz and Khushali in Mir Ali had refused to vacate their homes.
Even in Eedak village of Mir Ali subdivision, the local residents claimed that military authorities had authorised them not to leave their homes after they raised a tribal Lashkar and demolished the houses where the militants spent time.
Besides the residents of Mir Ali, officials said some of the residents were stranded in Miranshah and its adjoining villages. Their plea was to look after their homes and cattle heads.Pleading anonymity, a military official told The News from Miranshah on telephone that it was the last chance for the stranded people to leave the tribal

region on Monday.
“Monday was the last day for those who wanted to shift to safer places outside the tribal region. There would be no further extension in the curfew in the tribal region,” the military official said.
Tribal elders said those who remained in the tribal region had no means of transportation to shift to Bannu and other places in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.The tribesmen blamed the Political Agent of NWA, Siraj Ahmad Khan, and his administration for poor performance during the ongoing crisis. They also held the government and its security institutions responsible for not developing a proper strategy to handle the uprooted families in case of a military offensive.
Some of the elders felt that KP Governor Mehtab Ahmad Khan should have replaced the present political agent with someone having better administrative skills and understanding of the situation.
Hafiz Noorullah Shah, a prominent cleric and active member of the Utmanzai tribal jirga in the NWA, complained that the political agent and his administration had miserably failed in the ongoing crisis and demanded his immediate removal. He said the political agent didn’t present the case of the people of Waziristan successfully. He said the tribal region desperately needed an upright officer who knew his powers and functions and could make important decisions.
Interestingly, at a time when almost all the residents of the tribal region had fled their homes and villages and were living in miserable condition under an open sky away from their homes, the political agent convened a meeting of the tribal Jirga on Monday evening in Miranshah.
“The political agent spent three hours with the Jirga members,” a government official in Miranshah said.Hafiz Noorullah and Maulana Gul Ramazan, however, said the time for the Jirga meetings with the political agent was over.“Yes we know he called a Jirga meeting but what did he want to achieve now from the useless meeting of the Jirga when the entire tribal region has become vacant and the Jirga members become IDPs?” Hafiz Noorullah Shah noted.
Hafiz Noorullah Shah said the NWA Taliban, headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, had announced a ceasefire till the 10th day of Eidul Fitr and directed its fighters not to attack security forces during this period.
“Hafiz Gul Bahadur had made it clear that if the government wanted to fight against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other foreign militants, they had fled the area. And if they wanted to fight against the Taliban of the NWA, they would be ready to face them after the 10th day of Eidul Fitr,” he said.

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