Dera Ismail Khan: Muhammad Shah had to return halfway from Islamabad to his hometown because police did not allow him to continue his travel for the reason that he is from Mehsud tribe and hails from South Waziristan tribal region— the area regarded as the epicenter of terrorism.

Muhammad Shah Mehsud, father of four and a tribesman from South Waziristan, is a fruit vendor in Islamabad fruit and vegetable market for the last six months.

Number of tribesmen from FATA complained about harassment by police. Some of them were refused booking hotels’ rooms because of their background.

According to a paper “An Update of IDPs of South Waziristan Agency”, written by a policy analyst, Fauzia Yazdani, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), located along the border with Afghanistan, span an area of 27,220 square kilometers.

The paper states that South Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, borders Afghanistan and covers nearly 11,585 km. Troops of the British Raj coined a name for this region “Hell’s Door Knocker” in recognition of the fearsome reputation of local fighters and inhospitable terrain. The region became part of Pakistan in 1947, the paper added.

Saifullah Mehsud, director FATA Research Center (FRC), told News Lens Pakistan, “It is really pathetic that a person from a particular tribe or region is facing problems at a crucial time when people of tribal region rendered great sacrifices during the war on terror.”

A report written by Kiran Firdous, a researcher at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) back in 2014, recalled that in December 2007, 40 militant commanders in Pakistan’s tribal region held a secret meeting to unify their forces.

They created Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with late Baitullah Mehsud from South Waziristan as the chief of the TTP.

However, after the killing of Baitullah Mehsud in a drone strike in 2009, another militant commander from Mehsud tribe Hakimullah took over as the new chief, who was also killed in another drone attack in 2013.

Anita Mehsud, a leader of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) from FATA, says it is really problematic for tribal people specifically for those who belong either to North or South Waziristan.

“Most of the families with Waziristani background found it almost impossible to get a house for rent in big cities because of their background,” she added.

But Senator Saleh Shah from South Waziristan said he did not notice that people from Mehsud tribe or any particular region are either harassed by police or other law enforcement officials in big cities.

Shah Mehsud, recalled that he had to grease the palm of police officials twice to allow him onward travel to Islamabad for business.

Gul Nawaz, another tribesman from North Waziristan, said that he brought a patient from his hometown for a medical checkup to Islamabad. “I was stunned when I was refused a room at three hotels in Rawalpindi— a town adjacent to Islamabad— and I had to spend the night at a nearby mosque,” Nawaz recalled.

The TTP, also known as Pakistani Taliban, is the deadliest among all indigenous militant outfits, the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP) states.

The ISSI report states that Pakistan Army deployed 100,000 regular and paramilitary troops in response to surge in militancy in tribal areas. The security forces, civilians and militants suffered heavy causalities in the years-long clashes in the tribal belt.

Heavy fighting, the report said, between security forces and militants flared in FATA in 2008, left almost 450,000 residents of the Mehsud territories homeless and IDPs.

The director FRC said it is a criminal negligence to use separate yardsticks against people of either Waziristan or a particular tribe. “You know, the Mehsud tribe has a lion share in civil and military bureaucracy and the tribal manpower has great contribution in sending foreign remittances back to their country primarily from gulf countries,” he added.

According to a report in 2013 by FRC, FATA is home to 3. 5 million population and has been among the main regions affected by the claws of instability.

The FRC director noted that a particular tribe and region should not be targeted for the wrongdoings committed by a handful of persons.

A senior police officer in Islamabad who wished to go unnamed because he is not authorized to speak to media, said that a wrong impression has been created about people of North or South Waziristan tribal regions.

“I believe that all the people from the two Waziristan with exception of a handful of persons are law abiding citizen and we have issued directions to police not to harass them,” he added.

Rehmat Khan, a retired senior police official from South Waziristan, said he has observed people from FATA in general and Waziristan in particular are subjected to harassment at various check posts.

“A decisive campaign should be launched by the government to direct the law enforcement officials not to harass the tribal people because they have already suffered enough,” Khan said.

When asked what measures could be taken to remove the impression, the director FRC said, “Politicians and civil society from tribal belt need to spearhead the terror narrative and sensitize the entire community that FATA masses had unprecedented sacrifices for the nation and country.”

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