Latif* lived on the border of Aghansitan and Pakistan, he writes from Manus Island.
“I am a Shiite Muslim and my native village, Samir is in Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan. Civil bureaucrats administer the area, but must do so with consultation with the Maliks (Tribal Elders).
Our family was always active in the affairs of the area and were well educated back as far as my great-grandfather who was the first Tribal Graduate who served in the British Army as a Lieutenant. Sectarianism and extremism have been historical realities in the area and as such the Sunni extremists made life difficult for us. The rise of Taliban in Afghanistan further escalated the sectarian strife in FATA and North West Frontier Province as they severely targeted the Shia’s minority and supported the majority Sunni Muslims.
After September 11, when the USA and her Allies led the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, many terrorists entered Pakistan via Kurram Agency. In 2001 a group of 156 Al-Qaeda and Taliban men were captured by the local Shias with the help of Kurram Levy Force and the terrorists were handed over to Pakistani government and subsequently to the USA.
On December 19, 2001 when these Al-Qaeda captives were being transported from Kurram to a detention centre in Peshawar, they grabbed guns and fled. Once again the local Turi Shias fully cooperated in apprehending the escaped prisoners and my grandfather, Malik Yousaf Ali, (an influential tribal Malik (elder) and senior member of Tribal Shia Jirga), mobilised tribesmen and played an important part in the arrest of the these terrorists.
Unfortunately, the Sunni extremists of Kurram Agency and Waziristan provided shelter to the terrorists form different countries in FATA and reorganised them in the Sunni majority areas. Since then FATA and North West Frontier Province of Pakistan have become safe havens for the terrorists.
The terrorists started to target my family due to the role my grandfather and father played against the extremists’ elements. My father was the vice president of the Turi-Bangash Supreme Council and he also mobilised people against Talibanisation and extremism, as well as promoting enlightened moderation.
The extremists made several attempts on our lives and we lost family members. We regularly received threatening telephone calls and written notes. I had to stop studying and my father had to close down his profitable business. We were always worried about the threats we were getting from radical Sunni Muslims and Talibans.