SHIAS ALLEGE AL QAEDA INVASION OF KURRAM
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO. 339
(To be read in continuation of my earlier article titled "Fresh Flare-Up of Taliban--Shia Clashes in Kurram" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers26/paper2519.html )
Shia-Sunni clashes continue unabated in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. There were 15 fatalities on both sides on December 29,2007. Leaders of the local Shia community have alleged that the Kurram Agency has been invaded by members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban based in South and North Waziristan in the FATA and in the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and accused the Pakistan Army of failing to act against the invaders.
2. The "Post", a Pakistani daily, has reported as follows on December 31,2007:
ISLAMABAD: A delegation of notables from Kurram Agency has appealed to President Pervez Musharraf and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani to stop the ongoing violence that has resulted in the loss of more than 100 lives and billions of rupees' worth of property.
Haji Latif Hussain, President, Kurram Welfare Society, said the residents had been fighting the Taliban infiltrating from Afghanistan, North and South Waziristan and Al Qaeda operatives in the area who were thousands in number. He added over 70 people had been killed in furious clashes during the last 45 days. "The armed forces of Pakistan are playing the role of silent spectators instead of countering the attackers and protecting the residents under attack," he said.
Latif Hussain said Al Qaeda fighters had occupied various areas of Kurram Agency and blocked the main road from Peshawar to Parachinar, resulting in a shortage of basic commodities. "There is an acute shortage of medicines, food, electricity and water," he added.
The Kurram Welfare Society President said that as a result of the war, hundreds of women, children and the elderly had taken refuge in Peshawar while over a hundred students who were unable to move to their native areas because of the war had been forced to stay in Islamabad.
Mehdi Ghulam from Kurram Agency said Alizai, Balyamin, Tangi Amro Khail, Arravali, Santikot, Singk, Burqi and Pevar were under Taliban and Al Qaeda attacks while dozens of injured were waiting for their death in the Parachinar hospital owing to a shortage of medicines.
He said that although the current confrontation was not sectarian, shrines and mosques of both Sunni and Shiite sects were being damaged by Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.
Mehdi said that in Pevar firing from the other side of the border was causing multiple deaths daily.
Muhammad Hussain Turri, secretary, Ittehad-e-Ummat Committee, said: "We are not only fighting for our lives and the area but also for the sovereignty of our country.We are fighting the international war against terrorism on our borders by shedding our blood but, instead of helping us, everyone is creating trouble for us by trying to stop us from defending our area."
Turri appealed to the President and the Chief of the Army Staff to issue a directive to the army to intervene to save the lives of thousands of people.
Gull Ishrat, member, Kurram Welfare Society, said: "We are fighting the battle of the Pakistan Army against those who managed to escape from Swat, Bajaur, North and South Waziristan and Afghanistan and are involved in furious attacks on the Pakistan Army." 31-12-07
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )