Bannu: Authorities in Bannu have banned export of sacrificial cattle to the neighbouring North Waziristan Agency in the tribal area saying it caused shortage of cattle and a consequent rise in prices in Bannu.
An official order from the deputy commissioner in Bannu said that cattle supply to the adjoining tribal area of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) was creating a shortage locally.
“There is not enough cattle to meet the needs of locals in Bannu and due to this scarcity, prices have gone beyond the reach of the common people,” said the order.
The decision of banning exportation to NWA has put the people in NWA in a fix. Locals of NWA said the decision was inhumane and unjust, multiplying the miseries of people who had recently returned to the agency in the wake of Zarb e Azb, the military operation launched in 2014 to clear the area of militants.
“The newly established cattle market has been totally deserted and you cannot see even a single cattle head here,” Gulab Noor, a cattle dealer in NWA told News Lens.
He said scores of tribesmen come to the local market established by the people at Khaddi, a village in Mirali tehsil of NWA, only to go back disappointed as there were no animals in the market.
“Where would we get sacrificial animals from if not from Bannu?” said Noor.
North Waziristan is short of cattle because the domestic animals were lost during the military operation when almost entire population of the agency was displaced. When people left the agency in a rush for the safety of nearby districts, they set their animals free so they could fend for themselves.
Ihsanullah Dawar, a tribesman from NWA, owned half a dozen cattle heads before the operation. Now he and his family does not have a single animal.
“I had cows of a rare species that I set free because my first priority was to save the lives of my family,” said Dawar. He said during the year and a half he and his family was away from home, the animals went wild and he could not find them.
“Now the entire area has no cattle so where will the people find animals to sacrifice, which is a religious obligation,” he said.
According to the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), about 47,000 families have gone back to North Waziristan Agency so far after the area was declared as “clear” by the military.
Hamayoun Khan Dawar, a local businessman and a main shareholder of the newly established cattle market in Khaddi, said the imposition of ban over transporting cattle was strange as Bannu had always been the main supply line for this.
He said in the past, cattle were smuggled to Afghanistan which caused scarcity and high prices not only for the people of Bannu but also NWA.
“Now, all routes to Afghanistan are blocked and even humans cannot cross over so there should be no shortage of animals,” Dawar said, adding that due to the deputy
commissioner’s order, many people in NWA would be deprived of offering sacrifices on Eid.
At the same time, people criticized the deputy commissioner for issuing special permits to transport animals to NWA to those who approached him or paid money for it. They had copies of permits issued by the deputy commissioner to show as evidence.
“This is not due to shortage but to make money by issuing individual permits to cattle dealers,” said a local dealer in NWA, who wished to stay anonymous.
The order banning transportation of sacrificial animals to NWA remained a topic of hot debate on social media with thousands of people from NWA criticizing the deputy commissioner’s order.
“Are we not Pakistanis?” said one post a Facebook user, “Or is NWA not part of Pakistan?” “Are we not human beings at all?” said another on Twitter.
Users also posted copies of the order and permits issued by deputy commissioner to individuals to transport cattle to NWA.
Not just the public but also the political agent of North Waziristan termed the ban illegal, inhumane and against fundamental rights of the people of NWA.
“The ban is unconstitutional, inhumane and discriminatory, strictly against fundamental rights and will increase deprivation of the already deprived people of NWA,” said Kamran Afridi, Political Agent North Waziristan.
He revealed that before the ban, officials at FR Bannu took unauthorized cess from tribesmen of NWA which he said was in violation of the directives of Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Afridi feared that people of NWA were preparing to agitate against official corruption in the limits of FR Bannu and the recent ban on cattle.