Via IPS News
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, Sep 11, 2011 (IPS) – The United States-led war-on terror, unleashed on Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has utterly destabilised the neighbouring Pashtun-dominated tribal areas of Pakistan and reduced them to a state of utter lawlessness.
For a start, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the adjacent province of Khyber Paktunkhwa, of which Peshawar is capital, are now awash with small arms, with every household owning at least one of the iconic AK-47 rifles.
“Weapons manufactured in the FATA or smuggled in from Afghanistan have flooded the entire country and resulted in endless bloodshed all the way to Karachi,” says Naveed Shinwari, chief of the Community Appraisal Motivation Programme (CAMP), which campaigns against small arms proliferation.
Shinwari says the fact that every household in the FATA possesses firearms means that they are used to settle even petty issues, resulting in a large number of avoidable deaths and injuries.
“The situation here before 9/11 was peaceful, but over the past five years 35,000 civilians and 3,000 soldiers have died with bombings, shootings and suicide attacks becoming the order of the day,” says Mian Iftikhar Husain, information minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
As U.S. and NATO forces invaded Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in 2001, the leaders of the ‘Islamic scholars’ and the international Al-Qaeda fled over the border into Pakistan’s FATA and lost little time in extending their activities to adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“About 200,000 of FATA’s eight million people live in camps due to the military operations there. Of the seven tribal agencies of FATA, military action is in progress in six, making the lives of the residents miserable,” Husain told IPS in an interview.
Of the 52,000 students enrolled at the University of Peshawar, 10,000 are from FATA and who now find it unable to visit their native towns and villages.