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Protests Continue In Erstwhile FATA For Re-opening A Historic Shrine

Situated in lower Orakazai of erstwhile FATA is the ancient shrine of Badshah Mir Anwar Shah Syed (Pashto: Mian Bazargawar), a Sufi saint, religious and spiritual scholar of his time and a renowned Pashto poet. His shrine is in ruins and people have been protesting. Devotees from across Orakzai, Kurram,  Hangu and Kohat districts are pleading authorities to re-open the shrine for the pilgrims but the government has turned a deaf ear to the demands of the protesters.

Mir Anwar Shah preached Islam in the whole of tribal. Owing to his sacred stature and lineage to Ahlul Bait (A.S), his disciples and devotees have high regard and respect for him. The devotees are spread over Orakzai, Kurram and Hangu districts. The shrine was built just after his death in 1799 by the Afghan ruling Sadozai Drurrani dynasty. The Tomb itself is a part of the historical remains but is largely ignored and remains in a very dilapidated condition.

The shrine site was once deemed as the consulate of all the tribal feuds and sectarian splits in the area.

The huge neglect on part of the government has risked the monument turning to dust. This century-old monument’s glory might fade away at the hands of unforgiving time amid the long closure for almost 20 years. The KPK Archaeological department should pay heed to the historical site.

The Shrine went in the control of Frontier Corps since October 2006, after a minor land ownership dispute flared into violent sectarian encounters, resulting into deaths of 23 people and leaving several injured.  After failure of the Political Administration, FC was sent to quell the disturbances.Counts of Tribal Jirgas from both sects (Shia-Sunni) agreed on opening and the shrine. All these Jirgas were patronized by the then political agent during the FCR days of the district. But the Government didn’t give any heed to implement the Jirga’s deliverance on the issue. And hence the development remained at stand still.

After 2007 when Taliban started their activities in Orakzai, the issue went into cold storage for almost 3 years till the Military Offensive against Taliban started on 23rd March, 2010 and ended in June, 2010.

Each passing day, the protesters are reminding the Government to fulfill its walk-a-talk of enhancing the inter-faith harmony and that they would incur all the maintenance cost themselves.

The leading channels of the conventional media have not covered the protests in their prime time partly because they don’t deem it an issue of public concern. It could also be due to the stark media censorship in erstwhile FATA.  Moreover, the PDM and the opposition’s political agitation has overshadowed the one month long peaceful protest in FATA.

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Naya Daur