Territory dispute: Opposition leader fears more clashes this grazing season
At least seven people were killed and a dozen others injured in an exchange of fire between residents of Thor in G-B and Harban in Kohistan in February.
The nearly 10-kilometre stretch of land on both sides of the Basari check post, which separates Kohistan from Gilgit-Baltistan, has long been a bone of contention between Thor Valley, Diamer and Harban Nala, Kohistan. The disputed land is among the areas being demarcated for acquisition for the much-awaited Diamer-Bhasha dam project.
“Diamer residents will be taking their livestock to the pastures on this land, as grazing season has begun in G-B. This might lead to more clashes,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker told reporters on Thursday.
The violence in February was triggered when villagers from Harban Nala, Kohistan, reported that some goats of farmers belonging to Diamer district’s Thor area went missing from the disputed territory. The goats were grazing on the land that both regions claim. The farmers accused Kohistanis of forcibly herding away 400 goats.
“If this happens again, we are going to register cases against the G-B government as well as the federal government,” said Khan, a Diamer resident himself.
Khan accused the centre, which is led by his own party, of taking the issue lightly. “The people of this region hold little value in the eyes of the rulers.”
Following the bloodshed earlier, the warring tribesmen agreed to put down their guns for 40 days after a truce was brokered by a local jirga. The jirga, comprising representatives from both G-B and Kohistan, assured the tribes that the issue would be resolved permanently through a boundary commission set up by the federal government. However, the commission reportedly failed to convene a single meeting to this effect.
Last month, the G-B legislative assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for alleged encroachment near the proposed dam site. It called for immediate settlement of an issue that continuously sparks unrest in the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2014.