October 27, 2006

Profiles of Pakistan's Seven Tribal Agencies



10/27/2006 - By Hassan Abbas (from Terrorism Monitor, October 19) - The notion of "tribal culture" in the West often brings to mind images of backward, uneducated and unsophisticated societies. Perpetual chaos in states like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, for instance, is often attributed to tribal culture. It is a sweeping judgment as in many cases geopolitical, historical and even religious factors often play a more significant role than the impact of tribal ethos in defining what causes underdevelopment and violence. Pashtun tribal culture is generally portrayed as the root cause behind their support and sympathy for the Taliban and al-Qaeda. This analysis investigates these notions by studying the profiles of the Pashtun tribes that populate the seven tribal agencies that form Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Social and Political History

The people of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as the adjacent eastern regions of Afghanistan, are overwhelmingly Pashtun with a total population of around 38-40 million. Pakistan's Balochistan province and Karachi city in Sindh province also have a significant population of Pashtuns. Geographically, FATA runs north to south, forming a 1,200-kilometer wedge between Afghanistan and the settled areas of the NWFP. The Durand Line divided Pashtun tribes between British India and Afghanistan in 1893 and since then this delineation has been viewed with great contempt and resentment by Pashtuns. After Pakistan's emergence in 1947, this line became a major source of a tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pashtuns take immense pride in their independence and the fact that they have never been conquered in their 3000 years' history (except, briefly by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane). As to the number of Pashtun tribes, there are approximately 60 but the figure rises above 400 if all sub-clans are counted. The largest and most influential tribes are the Afridi, Achakzais, Bangash, Durrani, Khattak, Mehsuds, Mohammadzai, Mohmand, Orakzai, Shinwari, Yusufzai and Waziri. Pashtunwali, the pre-Islamic Pashtun tribal code, demands hospitality, generosity when someone asks for pardon or protection and an absolute obligation to avenge any slights. Honor and chivalry are considered the hallmarks of this tradition. Compared to this deeply-rooted ethos and ethnic pride, the "idea of Pakistan" has proved to be a secondary factor in shaping the identity and character of these tribes, although in 1947 the NWFP and the tribal agencies decided to join Pakistan rather than India.

FATA: Basic Facts

Although part of Pakistan, the FATA region functions as a semi-autonomous area. Since the British Raj days, the region acted as a buffer zone between the British and Russian empires and operated on its own terms, although various tribes cooperated with the British off and on in return for financial incentives. This traditional pattern of governance continued even after they came under Pakistani suzerainty in 1947. On political and social issues, it is the jirga (assembly of tribal elders) that define laws, regulations and policies. Pakistani courts and law enforcement have almost no jurisdiction over the area. Unelected jirga leaders from the region, however, were invited to become full members of the successive elected National Assemblies of Pakistan until 1997 to represent FATA. Due to their allegiance to the Pakistani establishment, they would always vote in favor of the ruling party on critical issues, but in reality the state's writ is only on paper.

According to the 1998 national census, close to 3.2 million people (the current estimate is 3.5 million) live in FATA, which covers an area of 27,220 square kilometers. Official statistics notwithstanding, the literacy rate is hardly in double figures. Basic amenities are scarce and, courtesy of the Afghan war of the 1980s, the latest weaponry is in abundant supply. Political agents represent the federal government and dispense regular stipends to local leaders (called maliks). Electricity is free and no taxes are collected. Only seven percent of the land area is cultivable and most income is generated by smuggling "custom-free" goods from Afghanistan into Pakistan, car theft rackets, drug trafficking from Afghanistan and the illegal sale of locally-made weapons. Carrying arms is a customary practice. Religious conservatism clearly holds sway and militant guests of the yore from Arab and Central Asian states have largely become part and parcel of the society through marriages. For administrative purposes, FATA is divided into seven agencies—Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur, North Waziristan and South Waziristan—although there are six additional small pockets of tribal areas known as Frontier Regions (FR). These are transition areas between FATA and the adjoining settled districts of the NWFP. They are jointly administered by the NWFP and the tribal agencies (for example, FR Tank, FR Lakki, FR Peshawar) and have a combined population of about 275,000.

Profiles of FATA's Seven Tribal Agencies

1. Khyber Agency: It derives its name from the world famous Khyber Pass which provides the most vital and important link between Pakistan and Afghanistan. With a population of around 500,000, it is inhabited by two important tribes—Afridis and Shinwaris. Afridis are widely known as courageous, although British historians remember them as a rebellious and treacherous tribe. While short tempered, Afridis are known as good fighters who are pragmatic in picking their battles and making alliances. They respect Sufis (mystics) and their shrines, which intellectually aligns them with Barelvi Sunnis, the antidote of conservative and pro-Taliban Deobandi groups. The Afridi tribe has also produced great men of literature. Shinwaris, the second largest tribe of this agency, are also influential, but its members mostly inhabit the Ningrahar province of Afghanistan. They are largely involved in business activities. In recent years, Khyber Agency has been a trouble spot known for hosting illegal radio stations supporting religious extremism and encouraging pro-Taliban activities (Dawn, December 2, 2004; Dawn, December 19, 2005).

2. Kurram Agency: Comparatively more accessible than other agencies, it has a population of about 450,000 and is home to two tribes—Turi and Bangash. A land of gardens and orchards, this agency has often been called pro-Northern Alliance because the Bangash tribe predominantly belongs to the Shiite sect of Islam, which is anti-Taliban in its orientation. Turi tribe (Turkic origin), known for its strong and hardy horsemen, also belongs to the Shiite sect and has been at loggerheads with pro-Taliban, Deobandi elements in the neighboring area. Some non-Shiite extremists in the area, however, were supportive of the Taliban, although with little effectiveness.

3. Bajaur Agency: Smallest of all, this agency is largely inaccessible due to its hilly terrain. With a population of about 600,000, it borders Afghanistan's Kunar province, which is a hotbed of Taliban forces. Its prominent tribes are Tarkani and Utman Khel. The alliance of religious political parties—namely the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)—has great influence in this area since two MMA politicians from this agency are represented in the National Assembly and one in the Senate. There have been some unconfirmed recent media reports about the possibility of Osama bin Laden hiding in the area. An aerial attack, reportedly executed by the CIA and targeting Ayman al-Zawahiri, took place in a village in Bajaur Agency on January 13, killing 18 people. Al-Zawahiri was not found among the dead and the incident led to severe outrage in the area. It is also relevant that Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a senior member of al-Qaeda who was involved in an assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf, told interrogators after his arrest in May 2005 that he had lived in Bajaur for some time (Dawn, January 15).

4. Mohmand Agency: The agency takes its name from the Mohmand tribe who resides there and numbers about 350,000. Mohmands are a very powerful and influential tribe and are known as natural guerrilla fighters. One of the important themes among Mohmands is the description and details of the wars in which they have fought. Indeed, they are widely known to have given more trouble to the British than any other tribe. Another distinguishing mark is the importance that they give to their clerics and divine leaders—they fought most of their wars under the leadership of their mullahs. They are also known for practicing certain primitive customs. In reference to the political scenario, Mohmand tribal leaders challenged the idea of joint combing of the area by Pakistani and U.S. forces in 2003, and later the NWFP government (led by the MMA) came forward to support the stance of the Mohmand tribe (Asia Times, July 15, 2003). Despite that, Pakistani army units conducted various search operations in the area and tribal leaders decided not to opt for a head on collision with them. It is pertinent to mention, however, that al-Zawahiri is reportedly married to a woman from the Mohmand tribe who lives with her father in the border area between Bajaur and Mohmand agencies (Dawn, January 15).

5. Orakzai Agency:
This small agency has a population of about 240,000 and is primarily inhabited by the Orakzai tribe from which it derives its name. The other important tribe in this area is Daulatzai. Unlike most of the agencies, Shiites and Sunnis both live side by side in Orakzai, although seldom in peace. Regular sectarian clashes have diminished the effectiveness and influence of the Orakzai tribe. This is the only agency that does not have a common border with Afghanistan. The present governor of the NWFP and former corps commander in the region, Lieutenant General (Retired) Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, belongs to this tribe. Some senior bureaucrats in the civil service of Pakistan also hail from this tribe giving them influence in the power corridors of Pakistan. Despite having a comparatively high literacy rate, the agency was the first one to ban NGO's from operating in the area, declaring them anti-Islamic. The possession of televisions has also been declared a crime here under the influence of the local Taliban.

6. North Waziristan: The second largest agency in terms of area, it hosts about 375,000 people, mostly belonging to the Wazir and Dawar tribes. The Waziristan region was a chronic headache for the British; even after the creation of Pakistan, Waziris continue to draw regular attention to Pakistan for their support of Pakhtoonistan/Pashtunistan (the joining of all Pashtun areas to create a new state) and hence maintained good relations with Afghanistan. Since the 1970s, however, Waziris joined the ranks of the Pakistani armed forces in considerable numbers as compared to members of other tribes. The transport business in the region is their monopoly. It is the kidnapping-for-ransom business, however, that they are most notorious for. As ironic as it may sound, Waziris are also fond of music and dancing, and despite the Taliban's influence they continue to cherish these hobbies. The Pakistani army's military operations in this agency started in 2002 and have led to a full-fledged military confrontation with Waziris. Many militant tribal leaders have become legendary figures in the process. Turning in their comrades to government authorities, as demanded by the army, meant a treacherous course of action for them. Interestingly, since the recent peace accord between Pakistan and the tribal elders of the agency, the Taliban have opened up offices in three important cities to "control law and order" (Daily Times, September 28).

7. South Waziristan: The largest agency in size, it is home to around 425,000 tribesmen from Mehsud and Wazir tribes. Both tribes are proud to have a formidable reputation as warriors and are known for their frequent blood feuds. Mehsuds, the majority tribe, according to historian Sir Olaf Caroe would never consider submitting to a foreign power that has entered their land. They are reputed to be good marksmen and are known for their trustworthiness. They are also the most independent of all the tribes and have the highest literacy rate among them. While they have produced many senior civil and military officers, the overall political leadership of South Waziristan is dominated by conservative mullahs. The two National Assembly members from this agency are clergymen affiliated with the MMA. Militants from Central Asia, especially those associated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, were also based in this area. In 2004, they created a stir when they launched rockets at Peshawar city, targeting official buildings including military ones. Nek Mohammad, a notorious militant leader (although a hero to the region), was a Waziri from this agency.

A brief look at Malakand agency, which was converted into a district of the NWFP in 1970, is also pertinent here. The High Court of the NWFP extended its jurisdiction to this area in 1974. It has a population of around 550,000 and is inhabited by the Utman Khel clan (mostly peasants) and Yusufzais (Ranizais clan). Yusufzai are perhaps the largest, oldest, and most sophisticated of the Pashtuns. They are known to be hard-working agriculturalists, aristocratic in bearing and traditionally individual land holders. The area remained a seat of Gandhara art culture and is known for rare scenic places and tourist resorts. This area came into news headlines as a religious extremist movement under the name of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) got its hold in the area in the early 1990s under a militant leader Sufi Mohammad (Terrorism Focus, May 17). In the wake of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, Sufi Mohammad took a small private army into Afghanistan to support the Taliban. He is currently in prison in Pakistan, but the movement he created has been reactivated recently. One positive development, however, was victory of a moderate party's candidate in elections for the mayor of Malakand district last year.

In comparison to tribal agencies, the Pashtuns living in the NWFP districts (called settled areas) are more educated, urbanized and even leftist political parties like the Awami National Party (ANP) have had decent electoral successes (barring the 2002 elections). The 2002 NWFP elections were the first time since the 1971 elections that religious parties did so well.

Conclusion

The tribesmen of FATA, although diverse in many ways, have some common traits: they value their independence dearly; they consider all foreign elements suspicious (including Pakistani forces); and they are not ready to lay down their arms in combat zones willingly. Yet, at the same time, they are prone to compromise if there are tangible dividends available and if there is no threat to their lifestyle in the process.

Since 2002, Pakistan opted for a forceful policy in order to coordinate with the U.S. forces' anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan, but it backfired because army action was indiscriminate and ignored the lessons of history. Lack of trust is now so widespread that tribal elements cooperating with Pakistani and U.S. forces are being targeted and killed everyday because they are considered spies—the worst possible indictment in Pashtun culture. Pro-Taliban radio stations are thriving in many agencies and reports of militant camps in the area perpetuate (Dawn, May 16). Many newly established schools for girls have been burned down. Additionally, some army officers and a few Air Force pilots have refused to conduct operations in the area as military action in FATA is increasingly unpopular in army circles (The News, October 5). Also, Pashtuns in the armed forces are becoming restive. It must be remembered that Pashtuns are the second largest ethnic group represented in Pakistan's armed forces, and hence a dent there can be fatal for Musharraf.

In hindsight, the institution of the jirga could have been utilized more creatively. By Musharraf's own admission, religious extremism and pro-Taliban sentiment among FATA tribes is turning into a people's movement. Use of Joseph Nye's "soft power" idea would have been much more effective, although it would require substantial resources and patience. The liberalization of society and reform takes time—which unfortunately is in short supply for political reasons.

Finally, given the potency of historical forces, the political scenario in Afghanistan greatly impacts all Pashtuns in the region. If a lack of financial resources and insecurity is hindering the Afghan nation-building process, then there will be consequences in Pakistan. If this trend continues, then ascendance of retrogressive forces in Pakistan is bound to take place even more forcefully in the coming years.

Hassan Abbas served as the Sub-Divisional Police Chief in the NWFP from 1996-1998, and was the Deputy Director of Investigations in Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau from 1999-2000. Currently, he is a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and is the author of Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror.

October 24, 2006

We are unpatriotic, we are Communists

Shyam Khosla

Security of North Korea, and not of India, is uppermost in the minds of Communists. They don’t think China that had a large arsenal of nuclear bombs and a massive delivery system a potential threat to our security and territorial integrity. CPM was extremely upset and sad when India became a nuclear power.

The CPM is unabashedly unpatriotic. Its actions, responses and mindset on almost all issues that have a bearing on supreme national interests and India’s security prove this to the hilt. The party’s interpretation of the Marxist ideology prevents it from taking a nationalist line on any major issue, though in order to confuse the masses, it names its publications with fancy names like Deshabhmani and Deshsevak. May be, the Communist don’t talk about India when they mention Desh. They may be thinking of their ideological fatherlands when they talk about “Desh”. It is a matter of record that the Communist Party of India (Remember, it detests calling itself Indian Communist Party) denounced the Second World War as an “imperialist war” but lost no time in declaring it a “people’s war” the moment Communist Russia joined the allies. Its betrayal of the Quit India Movement during which Communist leaders and cadres acted as British agents to sabotage the movement and providing information to the police to get nationalist leaders like JP and Lohia arrested is a sad chapter of our freedom movement. The undivided Communist Party’s role during the Chinese attack on India in 1962 (when it declared India as the aggressor and justified Chinese occupation of large tract of Indian territory) is too recent to be forgotten by people, short though the public memory is.

The latest in the series is the CPM’s response to North Korea’s nuclear explosion. The party that had roundly condemned the BJP-led Government for Pokhran-II in 1998 and organised mass rallies and street corner meetings to launch a tirade against India emerging as a nuclear power, has now gone out of its way to defend the Communist country’s right to make the bomb. It argues that North Korea can’t be denied the right to go nuclear since US has a massive nuclear arsenal but never raised this issue and conveniently forgot that our hostile neighbour China had nuclear weapons that could reduce our cities to rubble. It rubbished the NDA Government’s assertion that the nuclear weapons had been developed as deterrence but defends Pyongyang’s claim of being a nuclear state because it was meant to defend itself. The CPM took strong exception to the Indian Nuclear Doctrine in 1999 and went to lodge its protest with the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on the doctrine’ formulation that in the absence of a global nuclear disarmament, Indian strategic interests required effective and credible nuclear deterrence and adequate retaliatory capability should deterrence fail.

Security of North Korea, and not of India, is uppermost in the minds of Communists. They don’t think China that had a large arsenal of nuclear bombs and a massive delivery system a potential threat to our security and territorial integrity. The CPM was extremely upset and sad when India became a nuclear power but is elated—as is evident from stray remarks by its leaders—that the rogue country has successfully tested the bomb with the help of nuclear technology smuggled from Pakistan. The Communist parties persistently attack our security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and North East of “violation” of human rights but the very same parties remain mum on an extremely poor human rights record of North Korea. Earlier this year, these parties roundly condemned plans to hold an international rally at Brussels - the headquarters of the European Union - to highlight human right violations in North Korea dismissing it as a part of the smear campaign to tarnish the image of Communist North Korea.

As if to prove that it is unpatriotic to the core, the CPM mouthpiece - People’s democracy - came down heavily on the Indian stand that North Korea had violated its international commitments. Not only that, People’s Democracy pontificated by telling the UPA Government that it would make more sense if the Indian Government were to “boldly decide” to initiate the process for a nuclear disarmament agenda and timetable and committing to roll back “its own nuclear weaponisation” as part of this process. The CPM mouthpiece is suggesting that India should destroy its nuclear weapons to set an example before other nations, including the rogue states - Pakistan and North Korea. Its double standards have no bounds as it has no such advice for Communist China and North Korea and Islamist Pakistan. Atom bombs in the possession on failed states - Pakistan and North Korea - are no threat to world peace, according to the Communists but a nuclear India that has an impeccable record of adhering to its international commitment is a threat to peace in the region!!

Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush say India going nuclear is quite different from North Korea possessing the bomb. The British Prime Minister recently told a news conference that India was very strong on counter-proliferation whereas North Korea was going the opposite direction. Pyongyang, he said, had clearly breached its international obligations. Communists in India don’t agree. They think India was in the wrong and was guilty of pushing South Asia into a nuclear race, while “poor and harassed” Pyongyang has no option but to acquire nuclear weapons to fight American hegemony. They are no doubt Chinese and Korean patriots but care too hoots for being patriot to their own motherland! That is natural for them. They are Communists.

organiser.org

THE ISI'S MOLES IN THE ARMY

by B. Raman

The two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of the Army---one posted in Leh and the other in New Delhi-- arrested by the Delhi Police during the last three days on a charge of passing on classified information relating to the Army to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are not the first moles of the ISI to be detected. Nor will they be the last. Penetration of the Indian Armed Forces and other sensitive establishments such as the Ministries of Defence, Home and External Affairs, the Atomic Energy and Space Departments has always been a top priority task for the ISI.

2. All intelligence agencies undertake penetration operations in other countries---whether friend or foe---for intelligence collection. Even while posing as India's strategic partner, the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) penetrated the IB, the R&AW and the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). Even in the unlikely event of an improvement in India's relations with Pakistan, the ISI's penetration operations for intelligence collection will continue. We have to be on guard.

3. The ISI has three roles --intelligence collection, counter-intelligence and covert action. As an intelligence collection agency, it collects intelligence of relevance to Pakistan's national security from India and other countries. In its counter-intelligence role, it is responsible for preventing India and other countries from collecting intelligence in and from Pakistan. In its covert action role, it is responsible for clandestine procurement of nuclear material and for assisting the jihadi terrorists in India and the Neo Taliban in Afghanistan.

4. In India, while it focuses on Muslims for carrying out acts of terrorism, it concentrates on Hindus for the collection of intelligence. This is because it thinks that the Hindus, being the majority community, will have more access to secret intelligence than Muslims. That is why, more often than not, the ISI moles in the Armed Forces and other Government Departments detected by the IB, which is responsible for counter-intelligence, and arrested by the Police are generally Hindus. This is so in respect of the present arrests also.

5. While the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies try to recruit officers at senior levels, the ISI's successes are generally at lower levels. This is because senior officers, who understand the serious implications to their career and social prestige if they fall into an ISI trap, are careful to keep away from it. Officers at the lower levels, particularly those who have financial problems, easily fall into the trap of the ISI, which offers them large amounts of money in return for intelligence and secret documents.

6. There were many instances in the past too when military --army, air force and navy-- officers at the lower levels were found passing on intelligence to the ISI. In the 1980s, a senior naval officer posted abroad was found having a personal relationship with a Pakistani woman, who was suspected to be from the ISI. He was removed from service. This was a rare instance of a senior officer falling into a honey trap set up by the ISI.

7. Only the interrogation of the two arrested army men and a comprehensive damage assessment will bring out whether these were agents acting alone or whether they formed part of a network. It is generally presumed that for every mole detected, there must be one or more, which remain undetected. One has to find out whether the ISI recruited them after they had joined the army or recruited them first and then encouraged them to join the army.

8. Such penetrations are prevented through internal departmental security and counter-intelligence. Departmental security involves security of the set-up where public servants work, security of the classified documents kept there, physical checking of the personnel as they leave office to prevent their carrying out classified documents and monitoring the contacts of the employees with foreigners and their standard of living in order to check whether they are showing sudden signs of prosperity. In each department, this is the responsibility of the department. Thus, the army is responsible for its internal security to prevent penetration by foreign intelligence agencies.

9. The large-scale computerisation of the Armed forces and other Government Departments and the availability of means such as pen drives have made the task of ensuring departmental security very difficult. The CIA's moles in the NSCS were reported to have passed on hundreds of pages of classified information to a woman officer of the CIA posted in the US Embassy in Delhi through pen drives. The same modus operandi has been used by the two moles of the ISI in the Army. This speaks poorly of the state of computer security in the Government departments, which has been taken advantage of by the CIA and the ISI.

10. Counter-intelligence refers to identifying suspected foreign intelligence officers working in India and keeping a physical and electronic surveillance on them and their contacts with Indians occupying sensitive positions. This is the IB's responsibility.

11. Only when the Army's internal security set-up and the IB's counter-intelligence set-up work effectively in close co-ordination with each other would it be possible to prevent such instances of penetration. The fact that such instances keep taking place shows weaknesses in internal departmental security and counter-intelligence.

12. The ISI has till now been using Kathmandu for its clandestine meetings with its Indian moles so that these meetings are not detected by the IB. One of the arrested NCOs reportedly was visiting Kathmandu repeatedly for meeting his ISI controlling officer and passing on the documents without being detected till now. The fact that this time he was intercepted at the Delhi airport before he could go to Kathmandu would indicate that the IB had been tipped off by somebody or some intercepted message of the ISI.

13. The ISI has recently set up a base in Colombo. It is to be expected that in future it will use Kathmandu for clandestine meetings with its moles in North India, and Colombo for its clandestine meetings with its moles in the South.

14. Since 2004, there has been a detection of three major instances of penetration---of the R&AW by the CIA in 2004, of the NSCS by the CIA earlier this year and of the Army by the ISI now. This shows that all is not well with the state of our internal departmental security and counter-intelligence. As a result, foreign intelligence agencies have been able to operate with impunity. Identification of the loopholes and their rectification should be given very high priority.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)

Pakistani Government's apathy towards the quake victims

Mumtaz Khan
Vice Chairman IKA

As first anniversary of earthquake victims was celebrated, and Mushraf and Aziz chose to spend day of 8th October at Muzafarabad to show the solidarity with earthquake victims or to politicize the occasion as Kashmir has been political weapon on all occasions for Pakistani leaders. The worst disaster that has struck this region and vanished a generation of Kashmiri’s where according the modest estimate only 17,000 children had died. While other casualties were more than double only in Azad Kashmir and many buried under the rubbles went unaccounted. People have not overcome the bitter memories of those days yet when helpless quake victims were crying under the rubbles and debris for rescue while thousands of military deployed in the areas were watching the scene and telling the people they didn’t have orders to rescue them. Thousands died because of delays in rescue while millions displaced, orphaned and injured had hardly found the shelter to hide themselves during the sever cold weather. World media and community’s prompt response and attention has helped to save vulnerable lives from dying but wicked and vicious circle of looters, robbers, kidnappers and corrupt military officials have taken the full benefit of the panic situation and people’s helplessness. World community donated generously but Pakistan military officials replaced those relief items quickly with old ones to keep their supplies abundant while earthquake victims ended up with military’s worn out items to keep their breath running.

The earthquake disaster put Pakistan ’s longstanding claims of paining for Kashmiri’s freedom into test when thousands of deployed Pakistan army in Kashmir meant to secure the borders and people from foreign aggression became mute spectator of watching dying Kashmiri’s in front of their eyes. people question that how this army can save us from foreign aggression or can be protector or custodian of our freedom while during this worst movement of disaster when world community have reached overnight but these military men those are virtually controlling and running entire political show in Azad Kashmir didn’t feel any pain. Despite seeing dying children with their school bags under heavy rubbles those cries and open eyes were begging to rescue their lives from protectors but those voices went unheeded. People with bare hands and frail bodies continued to rescue the trapped people but failed to defeat the nature’s heavy handedness while military men added their miseries when denied people to treat injured in the hospitals unless their soldiers are treated and looked after.

Today after completion of one year, memories have not died down but people certainly question that what Pakistan military rulers have done for the victims of earthquake as millions displaced still waiting under the worn out tents. There is hardly any sign of any progress on the ground that government has been made. What should have been government priorities, buying F16 of $6 billion, buying Aawcs from Sweden firm soon after the earthquake of over $2 billion, constructing $5 billion GHQ for generals, whose fortunes have speeded across the world, playing cat and Mouse game on Hudood ordinance or the rehabilitating and reconstructing the devastated people and Area? President spends weeks and weeks abroad to soften his image that only cost in last two years of his foreign trips about RS760 million alone. In last one year time he traveled almost more than 10 countries but he didn’t find time to visit to Muzafarabad or Balakot to see how progress on the ground has been made, how victims are coping with the there. But it appears that real purpose had been served as money had been pledged and collected from abroad. So Mushraf found no utility of going to Muzaffarabad before October 8, when he sees political reason not compassion for them. Pakistan government could hardly utter single word about the quake victims and affectees before Oct 8th and on that day government instead of showing any serious interest in protecting lives of displaced still are under the tents but began complaining about the funds. According to Pakistan daily times only military has drawn billions from defense ministry, President and Prime Minister Funds alone for the manpower and machinery was used during the earthquake relief operation. Was that important to pay them first or to provide shelter to the shelter less people first? How long those earthquake survivors have to wait, how many more they want them to die waiting under the worn out tents? Which other tragedy they are waiting to hit these survivors? Where billions of dollars of aid and donations have gone and who is the responsible for this government’s apathy toward this disaster stricken area and people. After one year people couldn’t find the shelter, small amount is handed out to people to shut their mouths while international NGOs and organizations are forced to close down their operations, those were only source for helping the survivors, providing health and education facilities. Because in their presence day by day Pakistan ’s longstanding claims of free Kashmir were unfolding to the international community. This closed area which was unknown to the outside world for half of century under the name of free Kashmir and world remained concerned and appalled over the Indian administered Kashmir, which in Pakistan parley is “occupied Kashmir” was unaware of ground realities of this free Kashmir; which is run by the three Pakistani Bureaucrats, Chief secretary, IG Police, Finance secretary, while all aspects of its political life is virtually controlled by real master GOC Muree and ISI officials and Minister for Kashmir affairs.

The world community was shocked to learn about this free Kashmir as they entered to Area and exposed to the pathetic conditions and stiff control of military and ISI that surrounded and rein the Area for over half century . This free Kashmir has widely been ascribed as the base camp of Azadi-freedom, by its proxy Kashmiri rulers, proxy militants and their mentors Pakistan military regimes have chosen once again October 8th, to politicize the occasion not to offer any real help to the survivors when they aired their rhetoric that Pak Fauj is prepared to defend the country, the fauj which couldn’t save the trapped victims. Mushraf didn’t bother to outline if his government had any plan regarding the rehabilitation of survivors. Irony is that geological reports about the Area have not been made public yet and keeping people in dark about the risk zones that have been identified by seismic experts because they wish not to have any long term policy for political reasons.
Irony is that as the day of October 8, has descended next day everythings appeared to be normal in the media to the government circles to the opposition parties as nothing has happened and they got engaged into the old political bickering and accusations to draw the political mileage against each other, while earthquake became forgotten issue. Over $6 billion aid was collected by the Pakistani officials, but military regime has created a white elephant named “ERRA” Authority for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction for earthquake, which is predominantly controlled and run by the military officials, who have swallowed the most of aid and relief items in the name of distributing cash to the quake victims. But despite the growing complaints about ERRA’s corruption and lack of interest that have forced affectees to continue protest over their apathy and corruption but Mushraf pays lip service to all these complaints. Even Mushraf League’s head Choudhry Shujat had to air his disappointment against ERRA failures and corruptions, and he had to say that he would join the protest against ERRA if Mushraf didn’t replace ERRA with civilians. The government appears to be busier in its domestic political manipulation and to save his power than worrying about the vulnerable lives still shelterless waiting under the worn out tents.