– ANALYSIS: Ali Khels: the state apathy continues
by Farhat Taj
The punishment was the destruction of the Ali Khel tribal leadership and the displacement of the entire tribe in the sham army operation that was later started in the area and to this date has not been ‘able’ to ‘clear’ the area of the Taliban
October 10, 2011 was the third anniversary of the devastating suicide attack on a grand tribal jirga in Orakzai that killed the entire Sunni-Shia tribal leadership of the Ali Khel tribe, the biggest tribe in Orakzai. The jirga was leading an anti-Taliban lashkar (militia) against the Taliban in the Ali Khel area — Tirah in Orakzai. Faced with growing Taliban atrocities and lack of state protection despite the repeated requests to the government of Pakistan, the Ali Khels were forced to take up weapons against the Taliban.
The Taliban militants who came to the Ali Khel area around early 2008 initially committed atrocities against the Shia Ali Khels and those Sunnis who defied the Taliban’s social boycott of the Shias. In response, the minority Shia section of the tribe requested the majority Sunni section of the tribe to support them against the Taliban. The Sunni Ali Khel section, already alarmed by the growing highhandedness of the Taliban, decided to protect the Shias by removing the Taliban from their area through force following the government of Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against the Taliban.
An anti-Taliban lashkar consisting of over 2,000 Shia and Sunni Ali Khel tribesmen was created. Within weeks the lashkar burnt down Taliban centres in the Ali Khel area, killed several Taliban fighters and the remaining Taliban militants ran away like cowards. A grand Shia-Sunni Ali Khel jirga consisting of over 5,000 confident tribesmen was convened to decide the fate of the Ali Khel boys who had joined the Taliban, but now had surrendered themselves to the mercy of the jirga. In the meanwhile, a Taliban vehicle loaded with 150 kilos of explosive material rammed into the jirga gathering and instantly killed over 100 Ali Khel tribal leaders of various socio-political stature, along with tens of other tribesmen, and injured hundreds. …
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