ISLAMABAD - The political administration and military authorities have assured responding to the demands of tribal elders in Bajaur Agency regarding security and assistance for the restoration of peace militias against the militancy, as deliberations between both the sides go on.

While the political administration and the security officials are making efforts for restoring the Bajaur Agency’s Peace Committee, the tribal leaders have categorically shared their reservations over what they term as non-provisions of security and related assistance to their men, resulting in the killings of dozens of the peace militia members in the recent past.

Talking to TheNation, Political Agent Bajaur Agency Jabbar Shah said, the agency’s administration has assured the tribal elders of providing proof security and tactical assistance while efforts are afoot to make intact Khaar and Salarzai peace militias. “We hope that the peace militia structure would become intact very soon,” he said.

Without elaborating on the details, the political agent confirmed about the concerns of tribal chieftains reiterating that the same were being addressed. “The tribal elders shared some pertinent reservations and we apprised them of our efforts to redress their grievances.”

Informed officials at the political administration said, the representatives of the administration, military and Khaar and Mohmand tribes held an important jirga (meeting) in Khaar last Saturday for the restoration of Bajaur Agency’s Peace Committee, which, the officials said, saw progress on reviving the militia forces. “The tribal people have some concerns, we vowed to address them. There would be a breakthrough soon,” officials said.  

On the other hand, a powerful tribal elder in Bajaur Agency also expressed willingness to join hands with the security forces in the ongoing battle against militants while demanding foolproof protection for militia members.

“We are ready to take on the militants in the volatile areas of Bajaur Agency provided that the safety of our men is ensured who have been targeted by the miscreants for siding with the security forces in the past,” Head of Peace Committee and one of the most influential tribal chieftains in Bajaur, Malik Abdul Sattar Khan told this scribe.

He said that the pro-Pakistani tribal community in the Bajaur Agency and rest of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had reservations over the safety and security of peace committees volunteers. “Our men played frontline role in defeating militancy in several parts of FATA and repulsed a number of militant attacks on different occasions but what happened after that? Peace lashkar members were targeted one by one and killed mercilessly and nobody came for their rescue,” he said adding that eleven peace committee leaders were taken out across FATA in the last five months.

“It is the responsibility of the security forces to ensure our safety the way they have to ensure the safety of general public. Even in peacetime, the peace militia volunteers face constant life threats. This dents our resolve to do something for the betterment of our region and wipe out militancy.”

The tribal elder said, a number of tribal peace committees who were overseeing the working of tribal militias became dysfunctional due to repeated militant attacks on them. “It has extremely negative implications when this kind of situations are not well responded to. The tribal militia volunteers from local community who have better idea of this region can defeat the militancy provided that they are properly aided.”

He suggested, a peace committee at every subdivision level needs to be set up in every tribal agency and frontier region for the effective supervision of peace militias.

“This requires provisions of resources and security. The Pakistani government provides us funds for the functioning of peace militias. So provision of financial resources is not a problem. Our foremost concern is security and tactical help. Adequate security measures are not possible unless paramilitary forces are engaged for the protection of tribesmen. After every operation, the peace militia members become the sole target of the militants. We want effective arrangements against militant attacks on us. “

The security officials claim, a number of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders along with dozens of militants have been killed in the ongoing operation in Bajaur Agency. Due to inaccessibility of media to the battleground, this claim could not be verified from any authentic or independent channel.