Brutal repression in Shaktoi

Afrasiab Khattak

The brutal repression in Shaktoi , Waziristan, during the last few days is a stark reminder of the fact that the era of colonial violence for Pashtuns of former FATA is far from over.This area was kept as “a no man’s land” by British Raj since 19th century for their
strategic designs against Russian empire. Like a few other pockets in British India, the area was “excluded “ from regular state system. It was exclusively ruled by the executive branch with no role for legislature & judiciary. Punitive military actions, draconian laws,
and buying local elites were the main means to lord over the area. Pakistani state kept status quo for more than seven decades. The seven districts of former FATA have been the main launching pad for war in Afghanistan during the last four decades. In 2002 Pakistan Army

entered the area with the declared objective of “war on terror “. But practically the area was handed over to terrorists as Taliban, Alqaida and other groups entered the area for regrouping and building bases for a new war in Afg. Waziristan was used as the head quarter for
terrorism. Haqqani network was based in Tochi Valley, north Waziristan under official patronage. TTP ( Pakistani Taliban) was created in 2007 for camouflaging activities of Afghan Taliban. Terrorists killed tribal leaders and intellectuals as the state remained indifferent.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched with pomp & show in Waziristan in 2014 to coincide with the drawdown of international forces from Afg. It pushed all the fighters into Afg to strengthen Taliban’s war. The Death, Destruction & Displacement faced by the locals led to
a pol uprising in the area known as Pashtun Tahafuz ( Protection) Movement PTM. Led by the young political activists of the area, the movement fired the imagination of Pashtuns the world over. It also inspired oppressed people in other parts of Pakistan. The non violent PTM

opposed the state policy of Talibanising Pashtuns and using them as cannon fodder, but it also exposed the double game in Afg. In response the security state tried to demonise PTM by levelling false allegations & banning its media coverage. Its cadres were arrested &
tortured. Two of its leaders, Arman Luni and Arif Wazir were murdered in cold blood. Dozens of PTM supporters were killed and injured while army opened fire on them in Khar Kamar in May 2019. But PTM has been able to by and large keep its support base intact. Hence the
“containment policy” of security state. Theoretically the former FATA districts are merged in KP, but they are practically governed by army. These are still a no go areas. The complicating factor has been the return of Taliban to their old strong holds. They have once again
started the old game of extortion and target killings. Some of them also fall out with security guys on SOPs and attack them.Instead of revisiting its pro Taliban policy the security state retaliate against the local population who have been at the receiving end of all
the double games. After a terror attack on army personnel the enraged local commanders raided the houses of Shaktoi village, took the entire population ( men, women & children) out of their homes. Hundreds of men were taken to a local school and brutally tortured. Since the
area is totally sealed by army it’s difficult to ascertain the number of casualties in the brutal repression. It’s becoming clear as to why the army wanted to extend the draconian Regulation (Action in aid…) to the whole province. They wanted to have a de facto Martial
Law in the province. Although the Peshawar High Court struck down the Regulation, but the Supreme Court suspended the PHC order without hearing the case and giving a final order. So 40 million plus people of KP live in a legal limbo,practically without fundamental rights.

Afrasiab Khattak is a retired Senator and an analyst of regional affairs you can reach him with twitter @a_siab