A dangerous gamble? PTI’s ‘Peace March’ to the badlands

Published: October 7, 2012
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Imran Khan maintains his own international image by defending people in the tribal areas but their plight remains the same and will continue to do so until this great game does not end. PHOTO: AFP

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has begun its ‘Peace March’ to South Waziristan wherein lies the Mehsud tribe’s town of Kotkai as well the native village of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Militant leader Hakimullah Mehsud and his slain cousin Qari Hussain, and the Ustad Fidayeen (trainer of suicide bombers) are also from the area. In fact, the first suicide bombing training camp was setup at Kotkai.

Recently, the town has gained importance in the international media as no one except the Mehsuds were previously allowed to enter it. Since the past two days, the area has been declared by the political administration as a no-go zone.

A newly-emerged organisation, the Mujahideen Zul Khalifa, issued threats to those participating in the march as well as to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor. A political worker even advised Imran Khan not to go there, keeping in mind the risk.

The tribal areas of Pakistan have been chosen by international players as a ‘practicing’ ground for war since 1893, when the Afghans killed British troops stationed in Kabul and recaptured Pakhtun sovereignty. They sought revenge from the British for dividing the Pakhtun people into two parts through the Durand Line and, later, into the three parts known now as Afghanistan, the tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

This part of the world became a buffer zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two countries were against each other in the initial days of Pakistan’s independence over the Pakhtunistan issue.

This was also the case during the Cold War when the former USSR supported Vietnam against the US.

Following this, the US, along with the help of the then-Pakistani establishment, decided to take revenge on the USSR. The tribal areas were chosen as the battlefields for this purpose.

Foreign fighters were invited to defeat the USSR and when the US got its signal to return, it left the mujahideen behind in these lands. After 9/11, these mujahideen have largely come to be perceived as terrorists, whom the US has been trying to hunt down.

Drones emerged as vital weapons in this war and victims were banned from running their own state of affairs.

Imran Khan maintains his own international image by defending people in the tribal areas but their plight remains the same and will continue to do so until this great game does not end.

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Mureeb Mohmand

Mureeb Mohmand

An Express Tribune reporter from FATA. He tweets @mureebmohmand (twitter.com/mureebmohmand)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.