Posted on August 4, 2012
Since the day when the first drone attack was conducted in Shakai, south Waziristan Agency and the then militant commander Nek Muhammad was killed, almost three hundred drone attacks have been conducted in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
North Waziristan has proved to be the worst prey of these attacks and 85% of drone attacks have been carried out in North Waziristan during the last five years. No doubt, some prominent leaders of Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been killed in the attacks (as per the claims of the US state department and media reports) but also a good number of innocent citizens are also among the victims of these drone attacks. A former CIA worker admitted recently that 35% of people killed in the attacks are innocent.
Women and children are also among the victims. On 17th March 2011, it was condemned universally when a Jirga was targeted in Datta Khel, an area contiguous to the border of Afghanistan. In that attack 45 people including a good number of tribal elders were killed while the rest were said to be the participants of the Jirga who were gathered to resolve a local issue over the ownership of a piece of land.
Drone attacks are so frequent in North Waziristan that sometimes three or four attacks are conducted in less than 24 hours in various parts of NWA. Locals of NWA can see at a time more than a dozen of drone planes flying over their heads non stop during day and night time which has resulted in serious consequences upon the routine life of the common man in the restive agency.
Doctors of psychology are of the opinion that as much as 80% of the residents of Waziristan have become psychiatric patients.
"Frequent drone attacks and growing militancy, poor law and order situation and kidnapping by the militants in a broad day light, and killing of people on the allegations of spying all contribute to serious psychological problems to the people of Waziristan," says Dr. Munir Ahmad Dawar, professor of sychiatry at Gomal Medical College, D.I.Khan, adding that poor economy and joblessness are also main factors in making life uncomfortable for the people of Waziristan.
He is of the opinion that almost 5% has gone to the stage of schizophrenia which is an acute state of mental disorders.
The question here arises that how people live in this state of affairs?
The answer to this question was sought from people belonging to various walks of life in North Waziristan Agency.
Wali Muhammad, 46, who is resident of Mir Ali and is a farmer by profession says that they were bound to live under the prevailing circumstances. "Where we should go to escape of this situation, we are poor people and live upon cultivation of our land and how we will live in Bannu or Peshawar without any resources" he said adding that those who can afford to live out of Waziristan have left earlier."We live in a state of frustration and disappointment and donít know what our future would be if things are not brought to the right track," said Wali while replying to a query. He also said that people are totally in dark about the policy of the state and they donít know why they have been kept under a regular pressure for the last one decade.
Another citizen of North Waziristan Gul Muhammad, 32, told that people were bound to do with the existing circumstances, although every walk of life was in a state of decay. "Nothing has remained safe, we have lost of our culture, our business, education, health and social life" said Gul Muhammad.
He also revealed that a lot of well off people had migrated from NWA and shifted their capital from North Waziristan.
"Situation here always remains uncertain, how one can invest here if he is not sure about tomorrow, thatís why most of the youth are jobless and inclined to militancy but the high ups have turned a deaf ear to all these factors," said Gul adding that if Government did not take serious steps to get rid people of this situation, it will have long lasting effects over the social and economical life of Waziristan.
Arafat, 17, is a student of second year in Govt Degree College, Mir Ali. He admits that he had not attended even a single period during the last academic year in his college."We donít see teachers in the college as there is no check over them and we have to go to Bannu or Peshawar for tuition in spite of too many financial problems," said Arafat. He added that some students who come from well off back ground were studying in Peshawar and Bannu and other parts of the country."How we can compete to those who never miss a period in the whole of the academic year while we donít find even a single period during this time," said Arafat adding that this state of affairs leads to yet another problem of class difference in our society.
Apart from education, health, business and such like other parts of the tribal life, the most alarming thing is that the specific culture and civilization which kept the tribal people unique in their life style, has totally been destroyed during the last one decade.
Hujra was the center of the village communal life but now one can hardly see a hujra in tribal village. Every one has constructed their own guest houses and the collective passion and soul in the tribal life has almost disappeared.
"It is very hard to believe for me that things would change in such a way as we see today" says Malik Mamoor, chief of Toori Khel tribe.
"With the growing militancy, the respect for elders, Jirga system and unity of the tribes have been lost," Malik says adding that militant commanders have become lords of the tribes while the elders have gone in the background.
He said that some were shot dead in target Killing while others fled from Waziristan and are residing in the settled areas as safety for life is prior to every thing. "When it comes to your life, you have to think for your safety instead of your status," Malik added.To a question as to how the culture and civilization be resorted once again, Malik Mamoor is not hopeful."It is hard to restore all those things we lost in the past ten years as there have been dire changes in the social life of the tribesmen," he said adding that after the militancy comes to an end social life can be restored up to some extent but not fully.
Gul Muhammad said that there should be Jirga and talks between the government and the locals (elders) as to how they can seek a durable solution to the problem. "There have been a lot of bloodshed, target killing, massive displacements, and a lot of innocent people have been killed in the war against terror in one way or another, it should be stopped now," says Gul Muhammad adding that the only solution is to hold talks among the authorities (Policy makers) and the real stakeholders of the tribal area.
Arafat is of the opinion that the only solution to the problem is to educate the people of the tribal areas which will help in eradicating militancy from the area."I strongly believe that peace can be brought only when we have good education and high literacy rate" said Arafat and added that there will be no more need to drone attacks and no militancy can flourish in an educated society.
Whatever the case may be, it is a fact that life of the common man in the Tribal areas of Pakistan with North Waziristan in specific has been affected so badly that many people who can afford, have left the area and are dwelling in the settled areas like Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar.They have rented houses, bought properties and settled there on permanent basses which have left long lasting effects over the economy, education, health, social life and development of the area.
If government and other stakeholders of the area did not show seriousness over the issue, it is sure that the area will become barren of talent and potential people will migrate form here.