PESHAWAR - While an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are optimistic about the positive outcome of military operation against North Waziristan based militants, scores of local tribeswomen married off to foreign militants, especially the Uzbeks and Arabs, continue to endure unbearable confusion and insecurity.
As the military targets Taliban and Uzbek warriors’ hideouts, majority of other foreigners – while leaving their children and wives behind – have reportedly left for other parts of the tribal areas or Afghanistan. The 'foreigners' came to Waziristan after Russian invasion of Afghanistan in late 1980s and since then they are living there, while some of them are residing on the other side of Afghan border.
For obvious reasons, these foreign militants now could not take their families along with them while moving to places they felt 'safe'. Since abandoning North Waziristan, according to locals, hardly any foreigner husband has established any contact with their wives as there are no means of communication.
Just like other tribeswomen, most of the 'left behind' wives, along with their children, have also reportedly shifted to Bannu, Dera Ismail, Tank and Lakki Marwat etc for refuge. They are now living with their relatives. These women are not even sure whether their husbands are dead or alive in highly dangerous conflict zone of North Waziristan.
Being a US ally in war on terror Pakistan carried out a number of military operations against militants in tribal areas of the country but these assaults did not achieve the desired objectives. However, the government and majority of people in the country are optimistic that the ongoing military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, would clean the area of the militants.
The operation has rendered around one million tribesmen homeless who are struggling for finding shelter in the settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to a report, during the ongoing military operation, approximately 450 militants – many of them Uzbek fighters – have been killed. The remaining Uzbeks and other foreigners who could not leave the area are feeling deeply insecure regarding their status and future in Waziristan and they too are looking to escape to Afghanistan.
Apparently, they too would prefer to leave without taking their local wives along, although while talking to this scribe during a recent visit to Bannu, some locals claimed that many jihadists wanted to take along their wives and children as well, but their tribal hosts resisted fulfilling their desires.
Some of the women married to foreign militants belong to poor families, who extracted handsome cash from their husbands via the custom of 'Volvar' (a custom where the family of girl receives money from the groom). The relatively affluent jihadist kept on pampering their wives and in-laws even after marriage. The financial security and patronage would be soon missing for 'left-behind wives' if the army completely crush the militants in the area.
During military operations in the past the foreign militants fled to unknown places while their women knew nothing about their whereabouts and the fate of their husbands, some of whom never made any contact with them. Some others however were lucky as their husbands returned.
The foreigners have again either left their local wives or they will leave them soon. And, once again they would not know whether their 'missing' husbands will make a comeback and if yes, how long they will have to wait for seeing their life partners. For those who could not see their husbands for long may consider remarrying. But, under the Islamic law they cannot remarry unless their husbands divorce them or their death is confirmed or they remain missing for a long time.