Sitting among the tribesmen of almost every age at the hujra of Malak Bismillah Khan in Datta Khel sub-division of North Waziristan tribal region on Saturday, it was difficult to sense the level of danger these people were faced with. Absorbed, in a cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, these people seemed oblivious to attacks by US predator planes and a possible military operation by Pak Army against Taliban militants.
Amidst ongoing chaotic security situation in FATA the social and cultural life of tribesmen is badly affected. The day to day incidents, bomb blasts, kidnapping, slaughter stories and other violent clashes have left these people in a social chaos where many are confronted with depression and stomach diseases. Worried about their children, parents use to continuously observe the activities of their loved ones as they might be kidnapped or misused by someone.
Irshadullah 23, a taxi driver in UAE who has returned to his mother town in Kurram Agency was astonished when his friends left his Hujra at 5.30 pm. Traditionally his friends were supposed to accompany him till the mid-night as they were meeting Irshadullah after two years. However, his friends told him that situation is quite different and they are being strictly warned by parents to reach home timely. ‘There is no guarantee of safe return if you go out of home at night’, warned Junaid Bangash.
In a disturbed and tense situation, these entertainment starved people in militancy-hit tribal agencies have found television and radio sets as the only refuge against their worries and problems, especially during the cricket world cup, which has diverted their attention from the bomb blasts, drone attacks and military operations.
Those who have TV sets watch matches with their friends in Hujras or with family members in their homes. Many among them listen to live cricket commentary on radio sets as they do not have TV sets and electricity at their homes.
Imran Dawar 25, a resident of Mir Ali sub-division was happy nowadays watching cricket matches despite tense security environment prevail around him. There is no permanent solution in sight to his worries and problems, yet the cricket world cup has provided him a temporary refuge from the harsh realities of life in FATA.
Despite, their grievances from the government regarding unemployment, price hike and lack of basic human security, the tribesmen appear strong supporters of Pakistan cricket team. They celebrate Pakistan’s victory and become dismal over its defeat.
Skipper Shahid Khan Afridi, who has a tribal lineage as well, is the most favorite player of tribesmen. Majority of the tribal cricket-lovers are optimistic about Pakistan’s cricket team winning the world cup.