Ready to die for a life of freedom

Published: June 29, 2011

Leaders of the Qaumi Lashkar of Salarzai, Malik Younas, Malik Hafeez ur Rehman and Malik Abdu Salam addressing the press. PHOTO: FILE

Since my last post about the fight of the Salarzai tribe against militancy and the death of their tribe chiefs, a lot has happened which needs to be conveyed to everyone.

We have been tightly enclosed in a cube that is inaccessible to the outer world and I guess this is why we too have been kept in the dark – far from education and modernity.

If you have ever been to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), you must have read the signboards prohibiting foreigners etcetera from entering there. The spectrum of the word ‘foreigner’ has now very cleverly been expanded to include journalists who might expose the truth about Fata.

Strangely though, Arab, Uzbek, Chechen, Tajik, Uighur and a few other external nationalities do not come under the government’s definition of foreigners or perhaps they are the foreigners who for 20 or so years have been living there with “prior permission,” as the signboards say.

When an agency is as small as the smallest district in the country and due to unfortunate circumstances, the presence of intelligentsia there is Brobdingnagian, the failure of intercepting an occurrence as huge as a suicide attack seems more like letting it happen. And when it happens for the second time in the same area, within a month’s time, fingers will definitely rise – and they did.

Apparently the Frontier Corps (FC) was provided with the whereabouts of the place and the people who were behind the attacks on the Maliks, but no action was taken, resulting in a third suicide attack in the same area, on the same people. Technically it was the fourth suicide attack against the Salarzai tribe but as the place where one of them occurred, was the civil officer’s colony, I’ll number it the third – for now.

We  will fight back

The history behind what changed a normal group of bucolics and laborers into the Taliban’s worst foes, is very disturbing, but at the same time very simple. When the Taliban started to break the backbone of the local Malik system and eventually started replacing them with their commanders, who used to be petty criminals, the Maliks or in plain English, the chieftains started negotiating with the government to bring an end to it.

After the first meeting with the political agent, on their way back, the vehicles of the local elders were ambushed and Malik Shahzarin and some of his colleagues died on the spot.

Angry as they were, the family members of Shahzarin started an armed resistance against the Taliban, followed by some other families and conclusively by the whole tribe – on the very same day of the ambush, they killed a few militants who were unaware of the turning of events.

In the days to follow, the training centers of the militants were torched, their houses destroyed and their families evicted. During the process, suicide attackers targeted their jirgas, missiles were fired on their villages killing old and young alike and public transport vehicles full of people were blown up using road side IEDs. The resistance continued until most of the area was absolutely cleared from the Taliban and Al Qaeda members.

Then came the military intervention. At first the jets fired at the wrong spots and the artillery shells almost hit women and children, but gradually with the locals still at the forefront, they cleared the Salarzai region out. This was the time when al Qaeda was still at their glory in the neighboring Damadola.

Salarzai and the army had won the most crucial battle in the war. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al Qaeda launched a guerilla campaign against the remaining tribal elders. Ironically though, most of the assassinations were carried out whilst the chieftains were on their way to their meetings with government officials.

Similarly, almost all of the bombing sites were the sites of jirgas which were called upon by the government.

The Maliks were reluctant in arranging such big gatherings at such vulnerable times but the government insisted they do so.

Up in arms, once again

One can ask several questions about the role of the government and the army regarding the protection of the people who are directly protecting their interests.

For instance:

– How many times did they send cars fitted with signal jammers to pick and drop them when they were already using them for normal chores regularly?

– How many times did they send security personnel to take them to the Scouts Headquarters or Civil colony and then back home safely?

But the past is the past. No one can do anything about it. Let us hope everyone has learnt a lesson from it. But unfortunately. I don’t think they have.

Maulvi Faqeer is out again on his FM station, with his band of hooligans, giving out hate speeches and threats to the government, army and their supporters. Only this time their speeches unusually start with calling Salarzais their sworn enemies, and having said so they plan and execute successful bombing attacks on them.

Let us imagine that nothing can be done to avoid the attacks on us. Let us assume that the army cannot protect us.

Let us assume that the state cannot guarantee the safety of our children against militancy.

A question arises:

What are we getting killed for?

The answer very simple:

For wanting a free life on our land – free of militancy.

And whoever is making the policy for us should keep one thing in mind:

We grew up learning just one thing – protection of our soil at any cost. If life is the cost, we are paying for it, so be it.

Remember that if one part of the country is unstable, the whole country will go off balance. If this generation of the tribal areas grows up to be illiterate, skilled, but only in fighting wars, the results will be devastating for the whole country.

Nizamuddin Khan Salarzai

Nizamuddin Khan Salarzai

A post graduate student of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Vienna, free lance writer and photographer, originally from the Bajaur Agency, FATA.

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

  • faraz

    And here we have propaganda tools of the mullah military alliance spreading lies on media about the tribals of FATA and declaring Taliban as pushtoon nationalists. The apologists living in mainland Pakistan are those who haven’t lost family members in Taliban led militancy. Recommend

  • Faria Syed

    Thank you for sharing your story.


  • jamal khan salarzai

    very well written … bt as our father would say … “u shud’ve been a bit mre discreet , a bit more diplomatic” … wish u best of luck . Recommend

  • Salarzai

    @Jamal: As with Saleem Shehzad’s case, your father will definitely be worried about your fate if you keep on telling the truth. But we are dying anyway :) Let him write what the world should know and thank the almighty that there is someone out here who wants the world to know what we are going through. Haven’t you read it in his blog; “We grew up learning just one thing – protection of our soil at any cost. If life is the cost, we are paying for it, so be it”
    We look up to you people, the whole tribe looks up to you people and you have been doing your duties exceptionally well. Recommend

  • Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    An insight to the happenings of FATA, thank you for sharing the other side of the story. I can relate some of the things from my own village in Sindh. Although we do not face Taliban militancy there but the sentiments are the same. If the price of protecting of your soil is life, so be it.Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    Thanks for giving an insight into what very few people in the rest of the country know ……. praying for your success against such inhuman hate mongers.Recommend

  • Rehman

    Very well written, the whole country is plagued with the stories of hypocrisy, shady dealing and lack of information. But with tribal areas, it is multiplied manifold.
    Brave effort brotherRecommend

  • Ch Shahzad

    Well done….most of the ppls around the country dnt know that wht is going on in tribal areas…..And we shld know that they are our brothers and we all have equal rights over Pakistan…As Quaid said that u r nt Punjabi,Sindhi,Pashtun,Balochi…first of all u r Pakistani…and above Pakistan u r Muslims…….We r proud of our Pashtun brothers…it is jst matter of time…we will INSHALLAH make evrything right acc to teachinngs of Islam…we luv u…May ALLAH protect u and our country….bcouz Pakistan is the only Islamic State having nuclear power for the protection of Muslim Ummah…the need of hour is jst Good leader…and we r seeing Imran Khan….INSHALLAH ALLAH will give him opportunity to do sumthing better for his country…AAMEENRecommend

  • Tabraiz Ahmed

    Insllha we will fight . and whole nation is stand with you. Recommend

  • yasir rasheed salarzai

    taliban u must understand salarzais are actually ur WORST ENEMIES…..may Allah grant them enough power n courage to remove taliban off the face of the world…ameenRecommend

  • Javed

    Hats off to SALARZAI tribe. We r proud of u.Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    The government should support the tribes in defeating terrorism from FATA and eradicate militant sanctuaries form the area.Recommend

  • Rabia

    Thank you very much for sharing the true side of the picture…. my prays are with you…. all the best.Recommend

  • omer shahzad

    salarzai’s u r our brothers,u r not salarzaii’s u r ppl of pakistan
    u ppl deserve to call as real apakistani,u r the real muslims,we are
    always here for you,even we will fight against them with you,this is our duiety,may Allah accept ur sacrifices and give us a real leader for this nation ,who has a heart like u ppl,who has a power of iman.
    i know the sacrifices of fata is more then whole nation,and just our words here not enough to pay you tribute,but we should come fwd physically to stand with you shoulder to shoulder against the enemies of islam and Pakistan……………..and we know that when ever ppl like salarzai’sss or pakhtonn’s are here in this country no one can defeat Pakistan…..first of all we should try to get rid of these traders who are ruling us,who have no pain for pakiatan and for the nation of pakistan…who are selling our deadbodies and blood just to maintain their designations….
    but we will got rid of them very soon InshAllah
    pakistan zindabad Pakistan Painda bad..Recommend

  • bushra

    dual role of pak army exposed.Recommend

  • Tariq

    These Lashkar are doing no sane job while killing own people and burning their homes at the behest of Pakistan Coward government and in-directly being paid by US.Recommend

  • Ed

    @All Pakistanis
    This nation, this land was not presented to our forefathers on a platter.
    We must do what it takes to preserve it and develop it.
    My deepest respects to all Salarzais.
    May the Almighty keep Pakistan safe.

  • Salarzai

    @Tariq: Dear Tariq, come live a few days amongst us. Infact you’ll be provided with food and living space for free for your family aswell; move to bajaur, just for a week. You’ll definitely get to know that what the lashkars are doing is PROTECTING THEIR FAMILIES. You’ll join them too i know for sure and if you read the blog carefully you’ll get to know that the lashkar was made before the governments intervention and the author hasn’t glorified the role of any government anywhere let alone US.
    Either you didn’t understand the whole story or you, like millions of other Pakistanis, have grown up on land of Defence housing authority; far from realities.
    If saving our lives and of those close to us is being insane, if supporting the state regardless of what is being given to us in return is being insane, if getting rid of those who killed, kills and will kill innocent men, women, young and old alike in mosques, schools, railway stations, markets is insane then yes you are probably right. WE ARE DOING AN INSANE JOB! Good luck to us!

    just incase the comment doesn’t satisfy you, go to option A = Come live with us….. At least for your own knowledge’s sake. Recommend

  • http://risingnationpakistan jawaid iqbal feroz

    Good morning , i am really impressed by the informations & enthusiasm of the published material.Its very useful to educate our people & to give message to concerned authorities. weldone , keep it up.Recommend