Tag Archives: blast

Force and Neglect in North Waziristan

I’ve just gotten off the phone with contacts/colleagues.

Here’s another example of the fall-out from cycles of violence in FATA, particularly Waziristan–fall-out that goes largely unreported and undiscussed in the national and international media. That silence only adds to the prevalent image of “backward tribals,” enraged Muslims and inexplicable violence when people in these regions do resort to armed resistance and/or stubborn refusal to work with the state.

First, recall this little reported story: 17 Pakistani soldiers were killed and scores more wounded when a car packed with explosives detonated near two fuel tankers at a military post in North Waziristan’s capital, Miranshah. The blast at Esha checkpost flattened two residential barracks last Saturday evening (Mar 23rd).

This is what happened after: the army imposed a 24-hour curfew in all of North Waziristan, one that is still ongoing 4 days later. The curfew was announced by the political administration. Shoot-on-sight orders have been given.

No services–including emergency services like ambulances–are reportedly allowed to run. Students at Miran Shah College have been unable to leave their hostels and have therefore missed some of their matriculation exams. Until at least Monday, approximately 350 vehicles and their passengers were stranded on the road between Bannu, a settled area in KP and Miranshah (ET). People are running out of basic supplies while businesses and vendors suffer losses as perishable supplies like vegetables and fruit rot. Some families have been reduced to eating shaftal or alfalfa, the fodder they usually give their livestock.

It is these daily cycles of brute force coupled with rank neglect that fuel support for insurgents who can then pose as resistance against a brutal regime. In other words, a gaping political vacuum exists in FATA, to which drones seem like an absurd response.

And finally, this is the first time that political parties will be allowed to operate and to contest elections from the Tribal Areas. Residents of FATA did not gain the right to vote till 1996, and although they were able to elect representatives to Parliament, these candidates had to run as independents. This year, however, parties have been given permission to carry out activities within FATA. In either case however, the Pakistani citizens here are in the bizarre position of electing representatives to an electoral body–the Parliament–whose laws do not apply to FATA. That questionable democratic process was further stymied by the curfew because candidates were unable to submit their paperwork for elections by the deadline this Sunday (Mar 24th).

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Another 45

update (March 4th, 2013): Unknown men opened fire on a funeral procession of the dead from Abbas Town. 1 killed and another 14 injured, including personnel from the para-military, Rangers.

update (March 4th, 2013): Another two explosions heard near PECHS, a well-to-do location in Karachi. Officials are claiming that it was an electrical PMT blast caused by malfunctioning electrical transformer.

update (March 4th, 2013): Police tear-gassed protesters at Teen Talwar who were demonstrating against the attack on Shia.

To the 163 dead in successive blasts in Quetta this January and February, Pakistanis now add another 45. All three attacks have targeted the Shia community, but while the sectarian organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) did take responsibility for the previous murders, no group has come forward to own the latest attack in a predominantly Shia neighborhood in Pakistan’s teeming metropolis, Karachi. In fact, ASWJ, widely believed to be linked to the LeJ, has reportedly condemned the attack, a move many regard as a political feint than a genuine reprobation of the violence.

Pictures of the latest attack by Dawn here and BBC here.

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