July 9, 2017

Looking at the woes of Kurram Agency that continue to torment the people of Parachinar


Just days before Eid, Parachinar, the headquarter of Kurram Agency, came under another deadly terrorist attack, killing about 70 people and injuring two hundred. This was the third major attack on the city in this year alone.

The agency is administratively divided into three parts, Upper, Central and Lower Kurram. Parachinar, part of Upper Kurram, is a Shia majority city and, therefore, the terrorist attacks here have a distinct sectarian dimension. It has a unique geography jutting into Paktia province of Afghanistan and bordering two other Afghan provinces.

This time, the people of Parachinar brought their dead bodies on the road and refused to bury them, till their demands were met. They wanted no less than the army chief and the interior minister to come and listen to their demands. During the protest, the security forces opened fire on the protestors, killing four more people. This exacerbated the tempers even further. On the eighth day of the sit-in, the army chief went to Parachinar, heard the elders, made a few commitments and convinced them to call off their protest.

Read also: The discontents of Parachinar 

The latest terrorist incident in Parachinar happened along with a couple of other attacks in the country and a deadly oil tanker tragedy killing more than 150 people. The attention of the media remained divided and Parachinar was kind of ignored by the mainstream media and kept more alive by the social media in the initial few days.

Likewise, the politicians belonging to the government, especially the prime minister managed to reach the site of the tragedy in Bahawalpur but not Parachinar; not even the governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who technically heads the Fata. To their defence, the PML-N ministers said in television programmes that the prime minister and governor could not reach Parachinar because they did not get security clearance, implying that Fata was being directly controlled by the country’s security forces and not them.

Apart from being a human tragedy inflicted on a minority sect, the killings in Parachinar expose the different fault lines of our polity that are a looming threat, that keep creating vulnerabilities and punishing innocent people. In our Special Report today, we have tried to look at the woes of Kurram Agency in detail that so peculiarly torment the people of Parachinar.