| Nida-i-Millat | Family
Magazine | Phool |
|Baitullah, supporters lay down arms |
FROM SHAMIM SHAHID
PESHAWAR - Two journalists including a correspondent of daily The Nation were gunned down at Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, while another injured seriously when some armed persons opened fire at their vehicle Monday evening.
Reports reaching here said that Allah Noor Wazir of daily The Nation and Amir Nawab Khan Wazir of daily The Frontier Post along with other journalists were on their way back to Wana after attending the ceremony arranged in connection with reconciliation between the government and Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha, Laddha.
When the newsmen traveling in a Hiace van reached near TB Hospital Wana, a group of armed persons in a white car opened fire at them.
Resultantly, Allah Noor Wazir, Amir Nawab, and Anwar Shakir of daily Islam received severe bullet injuries, however, their other companions remained unhurt.
All the victims were immediately rushed to the agency Headquarter Hospital where doctors declared Noor Wazir and Amir Nawab dead, while Anwar Shakir is under treatment at the hospital.
The attackers managed to flee from the scene and no one has so far claimed responsibility for the incident.
The brutal assassination of the media men has created unrest among the journalist community of tribal belt and Peshawar.
The deceased journalists were Masters in Journalism, and had been reporting for various newspapers, radio, and television channels since the fall of Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Both belonged to Ahmadzai Wazir tribe.
President Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and Editor The Nation Arif Nizami has strongly condemned the incident which took lives of two journalists, terming it an attempt to suppress the freedom of Press. He asked the authorities to initiate immediate probe into the case and arrest the elements involved for stern punishment.
He condoled with the bereaved families of the deceased and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls.
Earlier, after his reconciliation with the administration of South Waziristan Agency, the alleged militant Baitullah Mehsud and scores of his supporters laid down arms in a jirga on Monday.
He was wanted to government for allegedly sheltering and assisting al-Qaeda fugitives in areas dominated by the Mehsud tribe.
Baitullah Mehsud and his associates appeared before a well-attended Jirga at Sararogha, Laddha sub-division of South Waziristan Agency. Despite chilly cold and overcast weather, the jirga was attended by a large number tribesmen from all over South Waziristan Agency.
However, unlike Shakai, no one from the high-ranking military officers turned to the reconciliation jirga between the administration and Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha.
On behalf of the administration Assistant Political Officer Abdul Kamal Khattak and Assistant Political Agent Arshad Naveed signed the agreement that was brokered by a 30-member joint team of ulema and elders from Mehsud tribe. The wanted tribesmen were represented by Baitullah Mehsud. On behalf of Mehsud, 21 tribal elders also signed the agreement as guarantors.
Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud were considered active supporters of al-Qaeda and Taliban. However, Abdullah Mehsud is reluctant to surrender before the administration thus chances of a military operation against him and his associates in the area could not be ruled out. Abdullah Mehsud was charged with masterminding the kidnapping of Chinese engineers from Gomal Zam dam site.
Baitullah Mehsud and his associates got amnesty after their assurances to remain peaceful and loyal to the administration.
Under the six-point reconciliation agreement, Baitullah Mehsud and his associates would not provide shelter and assistance to al-Qaeda and other alleged militants. Similarly, they would not indulge in any activity against the government functionaries or forces. Also, they would not create hurdles before the development projects and other government plans in the area. In case of violation of law, Baitullah Mehsud and his associates would face action under the local traditions and existing government laws. Besides, they will be bound to extend help to the government in its war on terror. While both the sides would resolve all other issues and matters through mutual consultations.
In his address on the occasion, Baitullah Mehsud said that they started resistance when operation was started in their area. He said that during this operation innocent people were killed and injured and the tribesmen suffered billions of rupees losses as their houses were demolished and standing crops were affected.
Interestingly, Baitullah Mehsud was wearing a mask while signing the agreement and delivering his speech before the well-attended jirga as he was avoiding to be photographed.
The number of his supporters was stated to be in thousands who attended the jirga amidst exhibiting their guns and pistols.
Expressing his pleasure over the peace accord with government, Baitullah Mehsud said that it was not only in the interest of the tribesmen but also is in larger interest of the country. He said that a number of enemies, including India and Russian-backed Northern Alliance, were getting benefit from the differences of the government and the tribesmen.
On behalf of the administration Assistant Political Officer Abdul Kamal Khattak and Assistant Political Agent Arshad Naveed addressed the jirga. They expressed their satisfaction over the agreement. They praised ulema and elders from all over the areas and said that their achievement would lead to return of peace and stability in the area, which is essential for execution of development schemes.
Some of the mediators including Maulana Ainullah Mehsud, Maulana Saleh Shah, Maulana Mohammad Ameer, Malik Masood Ahmad, Malik Inayat Khan and Malik Raya Khan also addressed the participants and hoped that reconciliation between the two sides would prove beneficial for the tribesmen of the agency.
They also drew the attention of the government to the problems being faced by the tribesmen.