A boundary dispute of almost 150 years between Bajaur and Mohmand tribes has once again erupted which has brought both the tribes on verge of an armed clash. The recent dispute on 13000 kanal land surfaced when the Muhmand administration deployed two police personnel at Darbanro check post for screening of people for coronavirus. But the police chief of Bajaur asked the personnel to quit the area as it was under the jurisdiction of Bajaur district.
As per the history of this disputed area, numerous fatal clashes have taken place on the land. According to Shah Sawar, a local from the area, this land was the property of Muhmand until 1912 and a Khan of Bajaur at that time had confiscated it from Mohmand tribes. But the Mohmand tribe after a fatal and long fight with Khan reclaimed the land and handed it over to another person called Khan Ahmed Jan, since then the land is disputed.
According to Shah Sawar, the tribes from both the sides have fought many wars on it and many have lost their lives. The issue could not be resolved despite various Jirga and negotiations.
On the other side, the people of Bajaur have their own opinion regarding the dispute and status of the land. A political activist from Bajaur who is vocal for the resolution of this dispute, Arshad Ali, told us that this land belongs to the Khan of Bajaur and the people of Safi Muhmand had purchased this land from the Khan of Bajaur. He claimed that the documents of this land were also available with them. He also said that hundreds of Pashtun Jirgas were formed to resolve the issue but they failed to do so.
While revealing the entire background of the recently erupted clash, Shahid Ali, a journalist having a closed eye on the whole situation told us that the major reason of the recent dispute is jobs and admissions in Mamadgat Cadet College built on the disputed land.
It is important to mention that the cadet college was initially named as Mohmand Cadet College and was later renamed to Mamadgat Cadet College due to Bajaur people protest. Jobs offered by Cadet college have been divided equally between both the sides which is also a bone of contention in the matter.
Besides all these developments, both the sides are accusing district administration for their lack of role in the resolution of the issue. They blamed Government for fueling the issue and forcing the tribesmen to engage in war for their own political goals.
In the resolution of dispute, many local Jirgas have visited the areas but could not get a breakthrough as both the sides are not ready to accommodate each other. Now a body under the leadership of former senator Shah G Gul Afridi has been formed to address the issue as soon as possible in order to avoid any direct fight between the sides.
By analyzing the situation, it can safely be concluded that forming and mandating a jirga is likely to not offer a long standing and permanent solution. Since, the areas are already merged in KPK, it is the responsibility of the provincial government to form a judicial commission to settle the dispute between the tribesmen as per the law.
Secondly before forming the commission, the KP government should directly engage both parties to show its assertiveness and also instruct district administrations to take control of the situation. This will not only restore the confidence within the public but also establish writ of the state in the area.
Thirdly the KP government should quickly introduce the land reforms and Patwar system in the region which will help in the resolution of such issues permanently.
KP government should engage the protesters tactfully and with vigilant hands in order to convince them to end their protest and create an environment for resolution of the issue. Any protest in current situation of pandemic may facilitate spreading of Covid19 and leading to an emergent situation. This will not only further escalate the situation but also add to burden on our already meager health resources.