‘Wana operations will continue until foreigners leave’
* Tribes urged to surrender wanted men
* 2 more checkposts set up
PESHAWAR: South Waziristan Agency was quiet on Wednesday when chief administrator Muhammad Azam Khan delivered a strongly-worded message that military operations would continue untill the area was cleansed of foreigners.
“Operations will be conducted on a regular basis to cleanse the agency of foreigners,” he told an Ahmedzai Wazir jirga in Wana, the regional headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency, one day after the Army operation in which 21 local people were reportedly arrested.
He told tribal elders that the operation was against foreigners and not local people. He called upon the Wazir tribe to hand over the remaining wanted men or prepare to face the harsh steps the administration might take, including closing the business centres of the concerned sub-tribes. “We will step-up the crackdown if the wanted men are not turned over,” Mr Khan said, without mentioning a deadline.
Some tribal elders, expressing distress about Tuesday’s operation, asking the political administration to free all the locals who were arrested. “Innocent tribesmen were picked up after their houses were demolished,” they told Mr Khan. Mr Khan said he asked the Joint Interrogation Team to complete the investigation of the 21 local people he said were arrested. “I don’t want innocent men detained for long time. As soon as their innocence is established, they will be set free,” he said.
A senior official in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Secretariat in Peshawar said several administrative decisions were taken to address the Wazir tribe’s complaints. The decisions included giving Mr Khan, the chief administrator, a permanent office at a place convenient for both Wazir and Mehsood tribes.
Federally Administered Tribal Areas Secretariat Secretary Sahibzada Saeed said the chief administrator’s office would be shifted from Tank to a place between Tank and Wana. The Wazir tribe has long demanded that Mr Khan’s office be shifted from Tank, which was far away. They also wanted an equal distribution of development schemes between the Mehsoods and Wazirs. Meanwhile, checkposts were established west of Scouts Camp on Azam Warsak Road and north of the camp to better control the area. —Iqbal Khattak