Thousands of local people from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) including political party leaders and students brought to Peshawar bodies of 18 local people they claimed were killed by Pakistani forces in a village in Khyber Agency.
Iqbal Afridi of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf party said:“We demand an immediate end to the military operation in Khyber Agency because it has not brought any results during the past three years. The military operations are killing the local population while the militants remained unharmed.”
Afridi complained that military operations in the area brought the lives of the 8 million who live in FATA to a halt. All seven tribal areas are under curfew.
One male student, witness to a raid, told Inter Press Service that everyone was asleep when troops scaled the walls of their home. They asked the women to get aside and then killed the males. However, he was able to put on a veil and stand with the women and so escaped. Wazir Muhammad, a political analyst at the University of Peshawar, said that the people in the FATA area had been bearing the brunt of the US-led war on terror for the last four years. They rarely speak out because they fear reprisals by the army Muhammad said:“It is because of the growing anger that bereaved families brought the coffins of their dead relatives to protest.”
Umar Farooq, whose younger brother was among the dead, said: “It is for the first time that people have chanted slogans against law enforcement agencies for their failure to provide protection. It will continue in the future if the army doesn’t mend its ways."
Farooq also said that the army also took away the bodies from the site of protests and buried them rather than allow us to bathe them and have funerals before they were buried.
He also mentioned a video from 2009 that showed the Pakistan army shooting seven boys at close range in Swat. The army claimed the seven were Taliban. Farooq noted:“The incident caused international outrage and the U.S. – the main sponsor of the Swat Operation – briefly withheld aid."
In October of 2010 the US had sanctioned six units of the Pakistani military who were operating in the Swat Valley. The sanctions were under the Leahy law which requires that the US State Dept. certify that no military units receiving US aid is involved in gross human rights abuses. The law requires that when such abuses are found, they must be thoroughly investigated. In spite of pledges that they would act, Pakistani authorities took no action to hold units accountable.
Human Rights Watch has reported in 2012 that conditions are deteriorating in the Balochistan area. The military has been accused of killings of suspected militants and opposition activists. Intelligence agencies and the paramilitary Frontier Corps are also accused of being involved. Human Rights Watch has recorded the killing of at least 200 Balochistan activists in 2012 alone.
In April of 2010, Pakistan mounted air raids near the Afghan border which killed dozens of pro-government tribe members who had resisted the Taliban. The army chief had to apologize. This January, in a Khyber assembly, a lawmaker complained:“The federal government should immediately stop military operations against militants as these have failed to establish peace. They have become the main source of creating problems for the civilians.”
A member of the National Assembly claims that the military campaign has already displaced 1.2 million people in the FATA. Bushra Goha said : “Since 2005, we have started military operations in most of the seven tribal agencies of FATA, but militants are gaining strength while the poor people are suffering.We demand an end to the military operation in FATA." At the same time as all these protests are happening, the US is demanding that Pakistan take even more action in the tribal areas while continuing CIA drone attacks as well.
Meanwhile, a Taliban attack on a remote army outpost in the northwest killed at least 35 people. A Taliban spokesperson said: "Pakistan has been co-operating with the U.S in its drone strikes that killed our two senior commanders, Faisal Khan and Toofani, and the attack on military camp was the revenge of their killing,"