This is a PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE
By: F M Shah
The Kohat Tunnel is a 1.9 KMs long constructed with Japanese assistance. The Rs. 5 billion project was financed by Bank of International Cooperation, Japan. Kohat tunnel links more than half of Pashtuns from Southern KPk districts like Kohat, Lucky Marvat, Bannu, DI Khan, Waziristan, Tirah, Orakzai. The tunnel is a shorter, alternate route, linking more than 70 % of Pashtuns (from southern parts of KPk) to reach Provincial Capital Peshawar. Other advantages of the tunnel are less traffic congestion, traffic safety and promote economic development. It’s a boon for the people as when the tunnel wasn’t built, the people had to traverse on a narrow road passing through the dangerous mountain range.
This project was not financed by Federal and Provincial Governments because far flung Pashtuns from southern part of KPk are not considered Pashtuns by those ruling from Peshawar nor considered part of enlighten/moderate Pakistan by all those living like Mughal Princes in Islamabad. Their Pakistan starts with Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and also ends on same colonial cities. Similarly for those ruling from Peshawar during past 60 years, Pashtuns are only in Mardan, Charsada, Abbotabad and Walibagh. Therefore southern parts Pashtuns are on priority list of neither Federal Government in Islamabad nor Provisional Government in Peshawar. Their priorities are CDA (Capital Development Authority with Approx 30 Billion annual Budget) and PDA (Peshawar Development Authority) which has only developed Hayatabad and University Town for ruling elites. Federal Government in Islamabad or Provincial Government in Peshawar will hardly initiate any project of mass welfare in Southern District in spite of the fact that these districts namely Kohat, Karak, Bannu, Lucky Marvat, DI Khan and Waziristan have been hit most by Peshawar/Islamanad (under Washigton patronage) anti terror policies during past 10 years. It is very important to note that Southern parts (Kohat, Karak, Bannu, Lucky Marvat, DI Khan) and adjoining tribal area (Waziristan, Kurran, Orakzai & Tirah) are rich in natural resources like Oil, Gas and Coal. If you travel on Indus highway from Peshawar to Kohat, you will see laborer loading trucks with coals from the hills in Darra Adam Khel, it is one of easiest possible coal mining in world. These coal reserve stretch from Darra Adam Khel till Orakzai and Tirah Valley. Once you cross Kohat tunnel, you will find Oil & Gas Field toward western side. On Kohat-Pindi road, there are oil/gas fields in Gumbat short of Khusal Gharah Bridge. Once you cross Khusal Gharah again there are oil/gas fields on both side of road. There are a lot of Oil and Gas Reserves in Karak and Tal namely at Shakardarra, Banda Dawood Shah, Napasha which can be easily noticed if you are travelling on the Indus Highway. Most of 95 % of the corrupt, inefficient and ineffective Politicians, Army Generals, Bureaucrats, Businessmen, Police in spite of vast natural resources responsible for stone ages like conditions and backwardness in the southern district either live in Islamabad or Peshawar Posh areas. These corrupt political and military ruling elites have made billion and always loved to play ‘US frontline’ role intact in order to continue receiving US Blood Dollars (in name of aid for WOT affected abovementioned areas).
Military with complete air control, artillery, helicopter gunships and heavy machine guns have been unable to secure the tunnel and less than 10-15 KMs road through tribal area during past 5 years. Long queue is daily scene; even patients have died due to frequent tunnel closure. Quite astonishingly Khyber Pass (with more than 50 KMs road in tribal area), is operated round the clock and never closed by so called Taliban and Militants because it is only major supply route for NATO forces in the Afghan theater of conflict. Similarly Attock Bridge can cause major blow to Government alongwith NATO supplies. But it is always Kohat tunnel which is at the centre of a confrontation between the Pakistan Army and pro-Taliban militants. Are Taliban only against Pashtuns living in southern districts or NATO in Afghanistan? Why militant’s attempts to take control of the Khyber Pass are not successful? Even though it is much easier than Kohat tunnel because the road in Tribal Area to Khyber Pass is much longer. The tunnel is frequently closed for last several years due to ongoing US War for Terror and military operations. When the tunnel in open it is operated for few hours of the day. Can Pashtuns contractors (so called Nationalist) daily suffer similarly while travelling to Wali Bagh, Swabi, Mardan, Charsada, Nosherhra, University Town and Hayatabad? Similarly roads from Waziristan to Bannu and Pezu linking it with the rest of the country, are closed during last several years. No alternative route is left open to Wazirs,Mehsud,Dawar to travel to any other place, except for travel to Afghanistan via Angoor Ada or to go all the way through Balochistan to reach other parts of the country—a journey which is not only long but also dangerous. Will Liberal Fanatics living in Defense, CDA, Malls Roads and Societies daily suffer similarly while travelling to Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, and Lahore? Why it is always Kohat tunnel where, some unidentified persons blews up an explosive-laden vehicles on regular interval. But the question that intrigues one’s mind is how could explosive-laden vehicles entered the tunnel where strict security measures are in place. Where each and ever vehicle is checked by hundred / thousand men from securities agencies including Army, Police, FC MI, ISI, FLU, IB etc. Similarly mobile services are not available in Bannu and DI Khan for last several years. Can the kids of the ruling elite living in posh areas of Peshawar, Islamabad spend a single day without their I-Phone? There is media storm over three men killed in Lahore by American, why there is so much silence on all women, elders and kids killed during US drone attacks and Pak Army on daily basis? Gigit-Balitistan can be made a separate province due to Agha Khan influence. But why can’t FCR be amended and Waziristan is made a separate province? Musharaf and now Zardari claimed time and again that tribal area will be developed at par with the rest of the country. When are they going to live up to their words? We have not seen them taking any practical step since 2001. Where are US Blood Dollars provided for tribal areas by foreign governments? Why do not just track the assets and princely life styles of all the Governor PKp, Political Agents, DMGs in Governor Sectt, and FC commanders since 9/11? How many among them actually belonged and lived in Waziristan? Their families occupy palatial houses in Hayat Abad , Rawal Pindi and Islamabad. One wonders as to what extra-ordinary traits they have? Or what meritorious services they have rendered to deserve such princely life styles?
During past 60 years, most of the CMs, Governors, Ministers, Generals, Commissioners, IGs/DIGs, Secretaries, Pol. Agents, Media writers/analyst, Business/Industrial owners of KPk either hailed from Charsada, WaliBagh, Mardan, Peshawar or Abbotabbad/Hazara. It is therefore these regions are most developed in Khyber Pashtunkhwa because all funds and projects are diverted toward these areas. At the same time these ruling elite do not have any stake in southern parts of Pashtuns. Ex-CM Akram Durrani (whose family still in Bannu) and Ex-Governor Iftikhar (whose family still in Kohat) were exceptions and they tried to make a difference. Three Medical Colleges (in Kohat, Bannu, and DI Khan) and two Universities (in Bannu and Kohat) were established. However currently these institutes are facing huge hardship on various front since current ANP/PPP have resumed at Federal and Provisional level. As an example Bannu Medical is still striving for PMDC recognition in fifth year of formation. Quite surprisingly Bacha Khan Medical College Mardan has got PMDC/CPSP recognition in its first year of formation. It is interesting to note that Principal of Bannu Medical College was harassed in Provisional Assembly for initiating disciplinary action against an employee, who was adamant to take salary without coming to work. Quite interestingly the employee was inducted in violation of merit and was favorite’s of current sitting ANP minister.
In short, Pashtuns from southern districts are slaves at three levels.
At basic level they are slaves of ruling establishment from Charsada, Wali Bagh, Peshawar, Hazara.
At national level they are slaves of Urdu/Punjabi ruling establishment mainly from Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
At apex/international level they are slaves of US/UK war lords who are patron of Islamabad/Peshawar ruling elites.
You will not find anyone among existing CIA backed ruling thugs from Charsada, Wali Bagh, Mardan, Peshawar, Hazara imposed on Pashtuns who are not US/UK puppets, not fake-degree holds, not smugglers, not tax evaders, not criminals, not people corrupt from the bark to the core. These corrupts sons of the Corrupts will insist that masses should bear the tyranny of the present neo-colonial ruling corrupt elites and the likes thereof is necessary if we are to bear the ripe fruit of democracy and Pashtun Wali. It is critical that the root problems be addressed if we are to turn the Pashtuns from the direction in which it is headed today. As management guru Peter Drucker stated of compromises: “Half a loaf is better than having no bread, but half a baby is worse than no baby.” Who is saving whom? If anything, it is the Pashtuns who need to be saved from those who are supposed to be their saviors like Abbasi, Wali Khan, Bacha Khan.
(F M Shah is a graduate from SZABIST and a keen political observer & commentator especially relating to issues of Pakistan).