PPF condemns threats of demolition of the property of journalist Miraj Khalid Wazir in South Waziristan after he posted against a jirga decision on social media
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemns the threats to Hum Pashto 1 Correspondent Miraj Khalid Wazir by a jirga (a council of local tribal elders) after he posted on social media against a decision they had taken regarding demotion of houses in the Wana district of South Waziristan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The threats of demolition of Wazir’s house after he posted on social media against the jirga decision and the need for this family to relocate are troubling, and local authorities must ensure that the journalist, his family, and property are safeguarded.
Speaking to PPF, Wazir explained that in South Waziristan, local jirgas are responsible for resolving minor and significant issues, and the jirga leaders decide punishments accordingly. In a recent case involving a man and a woman, resolved in a local jirga on September 22, the leaders decided to demolish the woman’s house.
After learning about this, on September 23, Wazir expressed his feelings about the decision in a Facebook post. In a post, Wazir said that it was the state’s responsibility to take action when a person was involved in wrongdoing, as it was “illegal” to punish an entire family for the wrongdoing of a single person.
After the post, the jirga leaders threatened Wazir and his family, saying they would demolish his house for posting against the jirga’s decision.
Wazir shared that on September 23, jirga leaders also came to his house. While he was out of the country, his family members were threatened and told that Wazir had to pay Rs500,000 as punishment or their house would be demolished by the leaders for posting against their decision.
“After these threats, my family tried to complain to the police station in the district of Barmal Azam Warsak, but the police did not lodge any complaint. However, they surrounded the house and saved it from demolition. My family has been relocated from South Waziristan to Rawalpindi due to the constant threats,” Wazir lamented.
South Waziristan District Police Office Farman Ullah told PPF that police have provided complete security to Wazir’s house and police have also collected evidence to arrest the culprits.
“It is Wazir’s family’s personal choice to relocate them from South Waziristan to Rawalpindi. However, their house is completely safe and is under the observation of police. No one can demolish any house in South Waziristan without the consent of the government or authorities,” Farman Ullah added.
According to Aaj News, the jirga leaders, while addressing a press conference, said that after the merger of erstwhile FATA, police and courts were not functioning in South Waziristan; therefore, the jirga system was established to resolve any tribal or territorial disputes by the leaders as per the tribal traditions.
During the press conference, one of the jirga leaders, Alam Jan, said Wazir’s “punishment is an example for the people who criticize the verdicts of the jirga,” adding that others who criticized the jirga decisions would be punished in a similar manner.
Wana Press Club President Noor Ali confirmed to PPF that the local jirga in Wana had decided to demolish Wazir’s house over his post on the demolition of houses. He added that Wazir was not currently in Pakistan, but jirga leaders had forcefully coerced his family members into vacating their home.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists President Afzal Butt condemned the jirga verdict to demolish a journalist’s house for his Facebook post. Butt also demanded from the authorities to protect the property of Wazir.
“It is the state’s responsibility to protect journalists as they need protection these days. It is the right of an individual to report or express whatever they want to on their social media; it is unfair to demolish the property of a journalist who tries to speak for the truth,” Butt added.
Hum Pashto 1 Senior News Advisor and former Radio Pakistan Director News Abdul Hadi shared with PPF that Wazir “bravely” brought up the social issue of the demolition of houses in Wana by the tribal councils.
“Wazir just posted his thoughts on these decisions by these jirgas. After this, he started receiving threats to relocate his family members,” he said.
Khyber Union of Journalists (KHUJ) President Nasir Hussain told PPF that this was a culture in Waziristan that the tribal leaders make decisions for territorial disputes, and this time, they decided to demolish the house of Wazir as he addressed the issue on his social media.
KHUJ condemned the incident and demanded that the administrative government take action against such tribal councils and urged the authorities to protect the journalist’s family.