The FATA region does not come under the ambit of the Constitution; it is interesting to note that Article 247 (7) of the Constitution, Supreme Court or High Court do not have jurisdiction there, forcing people to rely on tribal jirgas or the FCR jirga for the quick dispensation of justice. The huge gap in tribalism and rule of law makes it easy for the Taliban to take shelter in FATA and form their own jirgas. There is no Federal Shariat Court in FATA, and only a small percentage of people want its establishment as it is less costly than regular courts. The trend signals towards the desire for some dynamism in the dispensation of justice in the region. However, tribalism has its own culture and customs. It must be said that the Taliban do not reflect those customs, and their aim to bring their own version of sharia’t by force is unacceptable to the locals. The Pakistan Army undertook about three operations against Al-Qaida and Taliban in the FATA region and formed Aman Lashkers with the help of tribal jirgas to avert the Taliban insurgency.

From there, the Taliban took shelter in Peshawar where they re-grouped and started operations in Swat. Once the army operation was over in Swat, many Taliban went back to FATA and established their training centers. During Operation Rah-e-Rast in 2009 in KPK, the Army again took the help of the local jirgas in Badha Bera and Mattani to form Aman Lashkers to fight off the insurgents, which was an effective strategy in dissuading the Taliban away from the KPK. The experiment was successful with the indigenous help of the Aman Lashkers who cleared the area of the Taliban.

However, after the operation, these Lashkers were deserted without any protection at all against the possibility of a Taliban resurgence with the army gone. Because there was no guarantee of protection to these Lashkers, they have been repeatedly targeted by the Taliban for revenge. So far, there have been countless attacks against the Lashkers that seem to have been left in the lurch. Their lack of protection has left them with no option but to give up before the Taliban and join them. For example, Adezai Aman Lashker quit the lashker in the Khyber Agency because there was no protection provided to them. Trends like these are growing in number and the Taliban are becoming powerful once more in the region, making the army operation for which so many sacrifices were made, ultimately futile.

So far, on 27th June, 2012, four bullet ridden bodies, including that of the chief of the Lashker, were found in Bazid Khel area. On 6th October, 2012 five Aman Lashker volunteers were killed in Aka Khel area of Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency. On 8th October, 2012, one person was killed and four others injured during clashes with the militants. On October 9th of the same year, seven members of Aman Lashker were also found dead in Tirah Valley of the Khyber Agency; they belonged to the Aka Khel tribe. In Landi Kotal, three members of the Aman Lashker were killed by the militants in Khyber Agency near Tirah Valley. In early 2013, four members of Lashker Aman were killed in Barah. Four members of Aman Lashker were also killed by militants in Budhbir area in KPK on 1st February, 2014. In Budhbir again, nine members of the Aman Lashker were killed on 13th February, 2014 which included the chief of the Lashker. It is reported that about 20 militants attacked the members of the Lashker, including their families. The list goes on, and more casualties are taking place of those who volunteered to be a part of the Lashkers against the Taliban.

Despite knowing the dangers involved and the threat of repercussion by the militants, the brave Lashkers carried on with their mission to tackle the Taliban. However, despite the dangers and threats, the Lashkers have been left alone as there is no Government support to assist them. This is cause of grave concern as there is a chance that these Lashkers might become completely overwhelmed by the Taliban forces, and be left with no choice but to yield. This will only give the Taliban more power in the region.

A few months ago, the Aman Lashkers appealed to the government to provide them with some security, but to no avail. In fact, all security from the Lashkers has been withdrawn, leaving them extremely vulnerable to brutal Taliban attacks. It is high time the Government of Pakistan took notice of their plight while considering the mortal risks they have taken for the love of country. Their sacrifices must not be allowed to go to waste.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.

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