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Dawn story challenged by South Waziristan administration

Waziristan
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News Analysis |

The political administration of South Waziristan acknowledged the circulation of pamphlets warning people against organizing “cultural and social activities” to include music and dance. The administration released a statement on Wednesday in response to Dawn’s story that attributed the dissemination of threats to the “Peace Committee”, sparking fears of the return of the Taliban.

The statement read: “A few ‘criminal-minded’ people who were not representing the tribes or will of the people in Wana held a meeting to ban certain social activities.” In order to analyze the situation, a Jirga was called. The statement said that the Jirga agreed not to “allow such elements to harm the social fabric”. While vowing to strongly deal with such elements, the tribal Jirga ordered the arrests of the culprits.

Read more: Dawn leaks and ISPR’s sensible move

Dawn reporters, on the other hand, have refuted that the Jirga was held. Dawn’s correspondent in Wana asserted that announcements were made from the mosque that called upon people to abide by the injunctions listed in the pamphlets. The reporter contended that the committee is very influential and its commanders impose fines on people.

Dawn’s Thursday editorial stresses, “If their activities are not quickly curtailed, the group may feel emboldened to return with force in Wana and even spread its operations to other areas. 

On Wednesday, a story titled ‘Peace committee’ slaps Taliban-style curbs on Wana”, featured in Dawn, ringing alarm bells. The story iterated that:” A faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana, South Waziristan Agency, under the guise of a peace committee and placed a ban on cultural and social activities and put restrictions on the movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.” According to the story, Salahuddin Ayubi heads the committee.

Thus far, no independent sources have confirmed the “return of the Taliban” but the news item has reminded people of the days when the Taliban ruled throughout the seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

However, large-scale military operations were launched in all the agencies. South Waziristan was brought back into the state’s control through the successful conduct of Operation Rahe-Nijat in 2009. Once regarded as a hotbed of terrorism, South Waziristan is now largely peaceful with rapid development works taking place.

Read more: Dawn leaks scandal nearing its resolution?

However, there is a concern that the failure to follow up the military action with the required reforms may hurt chances of lasting peace in the area. Experts are worried that unless FATA reforms are declared, the region will remain susceptible to militancy and terrorism.

The administration released a statement on Wednesday in response to Dawn’s story that attributed the dissemination of threats to the “Peace Committee”, sparking fears of the return of the Taliban.

However, watchers also assert that these efforts on part of miscreants to stage a comeback must be nipped in the bud so that it doesn’t become a huge challenge in the near future. Dawn’s Thursday editorial stresses, “If their activities are not quickly curtailed, the group may feel emboldened to return with force in Wana and even spread its operations to other areas. 

The state must respond quickly and firmly to the incipient return of the Taliban.” That said, it is rather early to conflate these threats with the resurgence of the Taliban.


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