ISLAMABAD / KOHISTAN ( ET): A jirga succeeded in brokering a ceasefire between rival Kohistan and Gilgit-Baltistan tribes whose members had clashed over a thorny land dispute.
It convinced the warring tribesmen to put down their guns and leave the boundary dispute for the government to resolve.
At least seven people had lost their lives and nearly a dozen were injured in firefights between the two sides that began Wednesday after villagers from Thor Valley, in G-B’s Diamer district, claimed that Kohistanis forcibly took away 400 goats that were grazing on the disputed land.
The conflict is mainly over a strip of land stretching nearly 10-kilometres on both sides of the Basari check post, which separates Kohistan from Gilgit-Baltistan. This is among the areas being demarcated for acquisition for the Diamer-Bhasha dam project.
The villagers from Thor claim that the land belongs to them and the GB’s government had set up a check post on the Karakoram Highway near Basri in 2006, which had sparked tension between the two sides.
However, following the recent exchange of fire, the provincial government had decided to constitute a tribal jirga comprising former adviser to G-B’s chief minister Haji Amar Jan, tribal elders of G-B Maulvi Wakeel Shah and Haji Shaghraf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s MPA Abdul Sattar, and Kohistan tribal elders Malik Mukhtiyar and Malik Siraj.
They visited the rival tribesmen in their bunkers and convinced them to cease fire. The truce, according to Malik Siraj, will remain in place for the next 40 days. The government, during this period, would ensure that the boundary commission reaches a decision, he said.
The government had held a high-level meeting in Islamabad the same month and decided to deploy Rangers at the Basari check post as well as appointed a judicial commission to decide the ownership of the land.
The land dispute exacerbated following the announcement of the dam’s compensation as people from Kohistan claimed that the area upstream up till the Basari check post fell under Kohistan’s jurisdiction. On the other hand, locals of the Diamer district maintained that the area downstream up to Kohistan’s Harban Valley belonged to them.
Interestingly, the disputed area is part of an unsettled territory without proper revenue records.