With all attention focused on Parachinar, which has been repeatedly under attack, the residents of other parts of Kurram Agency craved for attention.
In particular, the elders of Sunni tribes inhabiting Central Kurram and Lower Kurram started holding meetings in Sadda town to highlight their demands and to ask the civil and military authorities to listen to their grievances. They sought meeting with Corps Commander Peshawar, demanded compensation for Sunnis killed in bombings equal to that being paid to those slain in Parachinar, and warned of staging a protest sit-in in Islamabad if their demands weren’t accepted by July 13.
The military operations in Kurram Agency against the militants were carried out mostly in Central Kurram and, to some extent, in Lower Kurram.
The militants were all Sunnis aligned with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Some of them later joined the splinter faction, Tehrik-i-Taliban Islami Pakistan, led by Fazal Saeed Haqqani. Belonging to Uchat Killay near Sadda, Haqqani had been a long-time TTP commander in Kurram Agency before defecting in June 2011 to form his own faction. He claimed he disagreed with the TTP leadership that was adamant on conducting suicide attacks and bombings that caused civilian casualties.
The mainstream TTP in Kurram Agency continued to be led by Daulat Khan, who escaped to Afghanistan following the military operation and eventually joined the Islamic State militant group, also known as Daish. It is possible some of his men are involved in the attacks against the Shias in Parachinar, though the identity of the attackers isn’t yet known.
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The militants operating in Central Kurram linked up with those in the Mamozai area in upper Orakzai Agency and formed an unbroken trail extending all the way to North Waziristan on one end and Khyber Agency and as far as Peshawar on the end. It was important for the military to break this nexus. The repeated military actions in Bara and Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency, the operations in lower and upper Orakzai and also in Central and Lower Kurram and finally the Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan during the period 2009-2014 were aimed at disrupting the militants’ supply lines, uprooting their command centres and evicting them from their strongholds.
The sectarian clashes in Kurram Agency in April, November and December 2007 caused bloodshed and economic losses and resulted in the closure of the Parachinar-Thall-Hangu road that served as the lifeline for the Shia community and passed through Sunni areas. The state was at its weakest in those four years when the road remained close and Shias in Upper Kurram used to cross over to Afghanistan to travel to Torkham and enter Pakistan again to reach Peshawar. The road was finally reopened by the military in February 2011 and the Shia passengers had to be escorted to and from Parachinar in view of the risk of terrorist attacks to safely reach their destination.
The military action, particularly in Central Kurram, caused displacement and suffering. Properties were destroyed, the infrastructure was damaged and families lost livelihoods. They have now been repatriated, but it would take time and need the government’s focused attention to fully rehabilitate the returnees and revive livelihoods.
The government was also unable to hold election on May 11, 2013 for the National Assembly constituency, NA-38 that is spread over Central Kurram and Lower Kurram. The election was postponed at the eleventh hour on May 10 when the campaign had ended and all preparations were complete. The plea taken was insecurity and this was cited for the next four years as the reason for not holding the polls for this seat. This is the only seat out of the 12 National Assembly constituencies in Fata that remained vacant. It deprived the electorate of representation in the parliament and affected their share in development funds.
Munir Orakzai, twice elected MNA from this seat as an independent candidate in the past, still believes he was deprived of a certain victory when the May 2013 election for the NA-38 was postponed at the last moment.