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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan`s tribal areas in spot light

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, May 10, IRNA - Pakistan`s tribal areas, which did not grab 
so much media attention, habe been in the spot light since 9/11 
events. 
The tribal belt stretches from Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) to
Balochistan, both provinces share long border with Afghanistan. It 
comprises rough and rugged localities, some areas are not easily 
accessible by roads even. 
However, they are in high profile because of alleged presence of 
hundreds of Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements and the measures being taken
to combat them. 
The people here were part of the Pakistan Movement, which culminated
in creation of the country in 1947. These areas enjoy semi-autonomous 
status and are looked after by a political administration directly 
under the Federal Government. 
There are 20 lawmakers in the Parliament: 12 members of the National
Assembly and eight senators from the tribal belt. Initially, they had 
little or no representation in the Parliament. However, gradually they
made their way to the Parliament, opening the areas to relatively 
modern life. 
Still by and large, life is simple, literacy rate is not much high 
with a limited number of academic institutions. Significant budgetary 
allocations have been made by the present government to bring them at 
par with other developed areas of the country. 
In recent months, the army and the other law enforcement agencies 
have taken action against the suspected elements and their local 
harbourers, as it is widely believed that after the fall of Taliban 
militia regime, several Al-Qaeda and Taliban men took refuge in tribal
areas. 
Before that, many militants who waged struggle against the ex-USSR 
forces, also settled down here, marrying local girls. 
Media reports have suggested that there are proofs of their 
involvement in terrorist activities in the country and taking refuge 
in the tribal belt. President General Pervez Musharraf said recently 
that two attempts on his life few months back were masterminded and 
carried out by Al-Qaeda. 
Some tribal locals and suspects were killed, others arrested in 
the operations. However, the government adopted a dialogue path to 
handle the issue in view of resistance by the local population there. 
Some deadlines were given to the terrorists and their supporters to
lay down their arms and take advantage of the government offer of not 
being handed over to any other country. 
However, latest reports said that the standoff continued and there 
was not an encouraging response from the suspects and their local 
supporters. Another operation might be in the offing, if they did not 
surrender and declined to get registered with the authorities in 
coming hours. 
Of late, the United States has also expressed its dissatisfaction 
over the results of the measures, as media reports suggested. It is 
still unclear, whether or not the use of force would be resorted to in
the tribal areas to resolve the crisis. 
The tribals are conservative, courageous and never break their 
promises. It doesn`t seem that one day they will betray their `guests`
even if they come under the harshest pressures. 
TSH/1430/212 



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