Lahore : The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is alarmed over a recent incident where a peace committee in Wana, South Waziristan, has issued a ban on virtually all socio-cultural activities in the region, including preventing women’s movement outside their homes unless they are with a mahram and prohibiting locals from using public spaces after 10pm. It is particularly worrying that such news is surfacing following news about an undeclared military operation currently active in Shaktoi, Smaal, and Bobarh villages in the Ladha area of South Waziristan.
In a statement, the Commission said: “HRCP is dismayed over the worrying recent movement towards the possible revival of Talibanisation in South Waziristan. The report about the Taliban peace committee’s issuance of pamphlets to locals in Wana, warning them to abide by the listed guidelines or face grave consequences, is of particular concern given the fact that there is an active military operation underway in parts of South Waziristan which apparently has not stopped this Taliban committee from its activities as of now.
According to verified local information, over a couple of weeks ago, a meeting of the so-called peace committee was held in Wana. In that meeting, members of the peace committee, including local Maliks and elders, agreed to issue the restrictive guidelines. A couple of days after the decision, the pamphlets were distributed and on the following Friday, Maulana Taj Muhammad of the Wana Markazi Jama Masjid made a sermon to implement these guidelines at any cost. According to the controversial pamphlet, music, athan (traditional wedding dance) and use of narcotics have also been banned. Women are not able to frequent marketplaces or health clinics without a male family member. A vigilante committee has been appointed by the same peace committee to ensure implementation of the new guidelines and to help with identifying violators of these guidelines.
HRCP is disheartened to see that the South Waziristan authorities have publicly denied the existence of such an incident, despite the pamphlet being widely available in the area and locals verifying the incident. No group – state or non-state – should have the ability to restrict the rights of any Pakistani citizen in the FATA region
HRCP calls upon the government to immediately take steps to ensure that such barbarism is curbed right at the onset and the citizens of FATA are assured the same rights and opportunities as the rest of their fellow citizens across Pakistan. The Taliban must be stopped in their tracks firmly and straightaway, otherwise the country as a whole risks being enveloped in the wave of Talibanisation that is threatening to engulf FATA.