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Government promises support for lashkar’s fight against militants
By Zahir Shah
BAJAUR AGENCY – The Salarzai tribes of Bajaur Agency have reiterated their resolve to step up the fight against terrorists in Salarzai Tehsil and to form more lashkars in towns bordering Afghanistan.
The move comes in response to increased attacks by militants across the border in Upper Dir and other border areas in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Salarzai Tehsil is part of Bajaur Agency, which is near Upper Dir.
Political Agent Jabar Shah, Bajaur Scouts Commander Col. Shakeel Janjua and lashkar commanders attended a Salarzai tribal grand jirga July 5 in Khar. During the meeting, the tribesmen reassured authorities of their commitment to keep fighting the terrorists.
“Salarzai tribes have always been on the front line in the fight against terrorists, and the authorities hope that the new threat emanating from across the border from the militants would also be taken care of by the peace committees along with the security forces,” Shah said.
Government aid earmarked for tribe
Militants on the border have always posed a threat, and authorities expect the tribesmen to rise to the present challenge, he said.
The authorities will provide every form of monetary and material support to the Salarzais in their fight against militants, Shah said.
“Hundreds of millions of rupees of development and rehabilitation projects are in the pipeline for the uplift of the area in the Salarzai areas, which will benefit the locals,” he said.
Salarzai tribe’s commitment
The Salarzai elders, including Malik Younis, Malik Ghulam Muhammad, and Malik Hafeezur Rehman, gave unanimous assurances the Salarzais would intensify their fight against anti-state elements.
The Salarzai tribe already has one main lashkar, or peace committee, formed in 2008. The goal now is to form sub-lashkars that more consistently will cover a broader area of the border to repel attacks from Afghanistan, Younis said.
Existing lashkar members already have extended their patrols and the volunteers are being extra-vigilant, he said.
The Salarzais are always ready to fight the militants and, rather than bow to suicide attacks, are more determined than ever to fight terrorists, Ghulam said. “The vigilant lashkars would be guarding the bordering areas and all the bordering towns would have a well-coordinated mechanism to check the movement of the anti-state and militant elements,” he said.
Upper Dir has suffered problems. Recently, militants from the outlawed Mullah Fazlullah-commanded Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Swat, allegedly based in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, launched a series of attacks in Upper Dir, killing at least 15 Pakistani soldiers. More than 30 militants were killed during the attacks. TTP Swat spokesman Sirajuddin released a video and took responsibility for the Upper Dir clashes.
The TTP faction led by Maulvi Faqir recently reconciled with the insurgents’ central command, giving rise to a serious threat of a militant attack in the Bajaur Agency border towns. The prospect has caused authorities to turn to locals for support.