Following on from International Women’s Day, firstly I pay tribute to the women of Waziristan and their struggle to raise a family and work in the most difficult of circumstances caught up in the War on Terror in Pakistan. Social development in the region is directly linked to ongoing security problems within FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and those living in the region are trapped between the Pakistan military, the Tehrik -e-Taliban (TTP) and US drone strikes.
Here on this audio link, an inspirational Maryam Bibi, (currently based in Peshawar) and founder and Chief Executive of Kwandor Kor http://www.synergos.org/bios/mbibi.htm talks to British politician, David Miliband (Labour). She discusses her work in Waziristan initiating and maintaining women and children’s education and development whilst battling discrimination against those living in the region https://audioboo.fm/boos/404947-discussing-women-s-education-in-waziristan-pakistan-with-maryam-bibi-founder-of-khwendo-kor#t=2m28s
Maryam (who was one of 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005) advocates using “person to person” contact to work towards educating and empowering people, strengthening families and implementing community based training programmes. This brings me to my second tribute to political activist Alamzaib Khan Mahsud, Insaf Students Federation (ISF) for his assistance and “person to person” contact with me so that I may learn about the current issues faced by tribal people and inform others through my writing.
In earlier articles I covered the grievances of Mahsud tribe protesting against US drone strikes and military operations carried out by Pakistan armed forces. The hunger strike outside the National Press Club in Islamabad only ended after Shaukatullah Khan, Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, agreed to address their concerns http://blog.approximatetargetfilm.com/no-to-drones-and-military-operations-voices-from-tribal-areas-must-be-heard-6/
MAHSUD TRIBAL PERSONS LIST THEIR DEMANDS:-
1. Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) must be stopped.
“The Operation Rah-e-Nijat was a strategic military operation by the unified command of Pakistan Armed Forces against the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and their extremist allies in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that began on June 19, 2009, a major ground-naval-air offensive was subsequently launched on October 17.” This led to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) uprooted from their homes due to ongoing conflict in the region http://www.irinnews.org/report/97570/How-best-to-serve-Pakistan-s-750-000-IDPs
2. Return tribal people to their homeland and give compensation for the destruction of 57 homes destroyed by the army. The total number of homes destroyed is much larger but this number relates specifically to the army.
3. The kidnapped persons of Mahsud tribe must be released and cases brought to courts of Pakistan.
4. The quota in federal and provisional governments seats 4
5. Drones attacks must be stopped.
6. The local colleges in Waziristan should be opened in Tank and DI Khan.
7. Gomal Zam dam jobs must be given to local people because they gave their land for the dam (and were left without any rice) so they should be prioritized for employment. Tribal persons claim that such initiatives are followed through all over the world.
8. FATA university should be established.
9. The harassment of Mahsud tribe by police and other local government officials should be stopped.
10. Medical and engineering quota of FATA should be increased.
11. Give compensation to the victims of drones and military operations.
12. Political agent should behave properly.
13. Election should not be postponed.
14. Government should give scholarships to students and give opportunities equally.
15. The aid given to Waziristan IDPs by the whole world should be investigated because no money has been spent on the people of Waziristan.
Alamzaib informed me that these were the points given by him to the Mahsud youth to present to the governor of KP. The governor responded by stating that he was also tribal and would do what he could to assist but that some issues such as drones and military operations were not within his control.
Alamzaib’s article in the local Pakistan press also covered the motivation of youth from FATA in the run up to elections, their role in society and journey to empower tribal communities. One other pressing issue of concern was the mandatory registration of Mahsud Tribe and the system of payment for travel permits known as “rahdaree” which is seen by many as a heavy handed response to militancy in Waziristan which punishes ordinary civilians not involved in insurgency http://tribune.com.pk/story/424324/chained-by-rahdaree-mehsud-tribe-imprisoned-in-south-waziristan/
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”