Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunni tribesmen kill Shiites in an ambush

The peace accord with the feuding Sunni tribesmen was announced only weeks ago by the Pak government with great fanfare. A symbolic trip was taken by the state functionaries on the road that the Sunni tribesmen had kept shut for the past few years.

The accord was supposed to end the sectarian war in Pakistan's tribal areas where the Sunni militants, aided by the battle-hardened Afghan militants, had locked horns with some 50,000-strong Shiite tribesmen in the Kurrum Agency, which borders Afghanistan. The war had left victims across the sectarian divide.

Despite the accord there has been no stoppage in bloodletting. The recent attack on a civilian convoy of Shiites traveling between Peshawar and Parachinar left several dead, including a woman and a child. Given their very small number, the Shiite tribesmen have borne the brunt of this war over the past few years during which the Sunni tribesmen have blocked all access to the remote town of Parachinar. The government has been supplying the town of 20,000 people with helicopters, which is another sign of how much control the state enjoys in Pakistan's tribal areas.

At some point in Pakistan a debate has to take place about what constitutes citizenship. I think citizenship at its very core is about shared values that allow people to have common goals and objectives. Pakistanis living in the settled areas have to seriously explore if they share any values with the warring tribesmen of Waziristan, Hangu, Khyber, and/or Orakzai agencies.

If there is a huge gulf between the very ideals about the state and society between those who live in urban Pakistan and the ones who live in tribal areas, and if a common purpose, identity, and a common set of goals cannot be reached in the foreseeable future, then I'd humbly suggest that Pakistanis may want to consider defining Pakistan's geography based on shared ideals. Otherwise, the lack of a common vision will continue pushing Pakistan's economy and society deep into mayhem and chaos.

BBC News - Convoy in Pakistan Kurram agency ambushed by gunmen

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