Jalis Akhtar Nasiri
Lakki Marwat is in chaos, with people shouting for help against rising violence. The recent protests and strikes show how desperate the situation is. The government’s response, blaming the Afghan Taliban and expelling Afghan refugees, seems like deflecting from its own failures. The region’s plight reflects a lack of effective policies, leaving citizens in constant fear. Instead of fixing its own problems, the government points fingers. Lakki Marwat’s people are stuck in the middle, suffering from both terrorism and government neglect. The government needs a reality check; the region is a ticking time bomb, and their actions are making it worse. It’s time for concrete solutions, not just political blame games.
Hordes of people came out open in the streets of Lakki Marwat in a colossal exhibition of public outrage, uniting against the deteriorating law and order situation on November 28. Also, Sarai Naurang city observed a complete shutter-down strike that disrupted business activities. The Bannu-Dera Ismail Khan Road also experienced total standstill in traffic from morning till evening aggravating the disruption caused by the protest. Reportedly, protesters gathered and staged a sit-in, raising full-throated slogans condemning anarchy, lawlessness, and demanding peace. On the occasion, peace committee president Iqbal Hussain Advocate, Mufti Irfanullah, Malik Riaz Khan, Mufti Ziaullah, Amirzada Khattak, Malik Ali Sarwar Khan, Shafi Khan, and others said lawlessness had forced the people to stay indoors after sunset. They also demanded of the police authorities to increase night patrol and set up checkpoints on link roads.
Few days back, common people in thousands from different walks of life took to the streets against the growing incidents of militancy and chaos in the Lakki Marwat district with a single mandate for the government to restore peace in the area. The rally was named ‘Lakki Marwat Olasi Pasawon’. They wanted the government to take notice of acts of targeted killings and terrorism in the area. According to sources more than 5,000 people participated in the gathering. Besides, as reported in November, 2023, the violence has killed mostly security forces during the past three months. Officials note that Lakki Marwat has suffered at least 12 attacks on the police force, claiming the lives of at least 15 police personnel and injuring as many members of the police force.
Lately Lakki Marwat and areas surrounding it, have seen sporadic protest rallies demanding ‘peace and stability’ in the region. Situated in the lower side of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Lakki Marwat’s common people have been extremely vocal condemning the ongoing violence. The district has also experienced IED blast in the month of March, 2023, in which four policemen were killed. The banned terror outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also known as Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
Earlier, in the month of April, 2023, a peace rally was held in response to terror attacks on Pakistan Army installations in Lakki Marwat. Organized by the Olasi Pasoon Tehreek, the rally aimed to protest lawlessness and militancy on the Pakhtun’s land. Speakers at this rally condemned the recent wave of terrorism in KP, highlighting that local residents would not bear terrorism or permit anyone to take away their rights. The march was also part of the dissent which started from Aman Chowk and ended at Shaheed Abid Ali Chowk which was joined by thousands of people. The partakers chanted slogans and demanded strict action against the terrorists to eradicate the menace for good.
The recent incidents of protest in Lakki Marwat and other districts of KP, has unswerving linkage with ‘coming back’ of Taliban in power in Afghanistan during August 2021. The Taliban’s takeover also brought an immediate boost of strength for TTP, as hundreds of its members were released from prisons across Kabul who had been imprisoned by US-led NATO forces and the former Afghan government. This comprised senior commanders like the TTP’s former spokesperson Mufti Khalid Bulti and founding deputy emir Maulawi Faqir Muhammad Bajauri. As expected, TTP legitimizes its war against Pakistan by using or abusing the same arguments that the Taliban used in Afghanistan. Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has emboldened and strengthened the TTP.
Most importantly, common faith in the complete implementation of Sharia and the religious link between Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate and banned TTP has been a crucial factor in the latter’s capability to reinvent itself after being completely crippled by successive military operations in 2020. TTP actively started a process of re-inventing itself, shifting from a ragtag militia to a full-blown insurgency, culminating in January 2023 with the adoption of a new administrative and operational structure, being modified on the outlines of Afghan Taliban. On the other hand, Afghan Taliban leaders were utilizing TTP as an extension of their administrative structure in the tribal areas. The TTP is under the allegiance of the Islamic Emirate and by default provides the rulers of Kabul a certain strategic and ideological depth into Pakistan.
What TTP wants: first, it pursues to delegitimize Pakistan’s claim on an area bordering Afghanistan. More exactly, this means changing areas comprising former FATA back to semi-governed status. TTP’s second demand is far more obstinate, as mentioned above, it wants to impose Afghan-style Sharia across Pakistan.
As expected, the Pakistani government instead of looking at its own lopsided policies, is blaming the Afghan Taliban, who were once the ‘Good Taliban’. On November 8, in an unprecedented press conference, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul-Haq Kakar offered a hard criticism of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He declared that Taliban leadership was supporting TTP, and that had contributed to a major increase in violence in Pakistan, leading to 2,867 Pakistani fatalities since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. His statement also comes on the heels of Pakistan’s controversial decision to expel 1.7 million undocumented Afghan refugees from Pakistan, with over 327,000 having already been forced to return to Afghanistan since the expulsion decision was announced.
In a way the torturous treatment of Afghan refugees by Pakistan is a response to the Afghan Taliban’s persistent denial to control TTP’s growing attacks in Pakistan from its sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Most of the Afghans ousted from Pakistan are those who left Kabul to escape the Taliban’s harsh rule. Despite being sufferers of wars, proxy wars, and terrorism, the unfortunate Afghan refugees find themselves in the crosshairs of the growing Taliban-Pakistan strains.
The precarious refugee situation, along with constant fear of death and increased terror attacks, have made the lives of common Pakistanis living hell, especially in areas of KP, including Lakki Marwat and the vicinity locations. The Afghan Taliban have had clear agenda since its inception, and TTP and its offshoots are only following the footsteps laid by them. The current situation needs to come as a surprise. The entire country of Pakistan is sitting on an explosive about to blast at any given point of time.
In conclusion, Lakki Marwat is on the edge of chaos, and the government seems out of touch. The people’s cries for peace echo through the streets, but the response is inadequate. The recent protests and strikes reveal a community desperate for security, yet the government appears oblivious to their plight. Blaming the Afghan Taliban without introspection, the leadership overlooks its own flawed policies. The expulsion of Afghan refugees adds to the misery, punishing the innocent. As tensions rise, Lakki Marwat becomes a symbol of government ineptitude, leaving its citizens trapped in a cycle of fear and violence. The lives of ordinary Pakistanis, especially in KP areas like Lakki Marwat, hang in the balance, emphasizing the urgent need for genuine solutions rather than political maneuvers. The entire country appears on the brink, waiting for decisive actions to avert a potential disaster.
* Dr. Jalis Akhtar Nasiri is an acclaimed scholar and journalist who regularly contributes on issues of utmost importance for humanity.
Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.