Army ready to search South Waziristan
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: The political administration in South Waziristan Agency on Wednesday announced new measures against wanted men and warned that a search operation against Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants in the area could begin at any time.
“A search operation against unwanted foreigners across South Waziristan Agency could start at any time,” Wana Deputy Administrator Rehmatullah Wazir told Daily Times on the phone.
He said the administration had set no new deadline for the Wazir tribe to surrender ‘foreigners’ and wanted for sheltering them.
The official said that he had told a jirga from the Ahmedzai tribe that the administration would launch the search operation anywhere across the agency and at any moment once it received intelligence reports about the presence of foreigners. “For the moment, the paramilitary force and Khasadars, tribal police, will take part in the operation,” he added. The deputy administrator denied the Army would assist the paramilitary force and tribal police at the initial stage of the operation and that American commandos would also take part in the operation later.
“Anyone sheltering foreigners will be jailed for seven years and fined Rs1.5 million while the tribe will also be fined Rs 1 million,” he said. Mr Rehmatullah said property owned by tribesmen outside the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) would be confiscated, their assets frozen and transport business sealed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) if they were found to be sheltering Al Qaeda and Taliban elements.
Meanwhile, a lawyer, Wali Khan Afridi, told Daily Times that the political administration had no authority to impose the FCR beyond FATA.
“If the administration wants to take action against tribesmen it must do so under Civil Procedure Code-1908 and not the FCR,” he said.
FATA Security Chief Brig (r) Mehmood Shah rushed to Wana on Wednesday and met South Waziristan Agency Administrator Muhammad Azam Khan and military officials. “He is on a routine visit,” Mr Rehmatullah said of the FATA security chief’s visit. “Mr Rehmatullah has warned us perhaps for the last time that all wanted men whether they are Pakistanis or foreigners should be turned over to the administration,” said a tribesman from Wana, who wished not to be named. The tribesman said that Mr Rehmatullah had made it clear that wanted tribesmen would not be extradited.
Meanwhile, the Wana deputy administrator released 95-year-old wanted man Khunsak on bail after a Khojalkhel sub-tribe handed him over to the administration, tribal sources said.