Chitral incursion

Chitral has a strategic location and it shares border with Afghanistan’s Badakhshan, Nuristan, and Kunar provinces to the north and west with Gilgit-Baltistan to the east, Swat and Dir to the south. Chitral is the largest region of the KP province. 20% of its area is divided into two districts, namely upper Chitral and lower Chitral. The population of the region is around 45000. Chitral has three major religious communities; Sunni, Islmali and Kalashi (Pagans). All the communities live in harmony and mutual respect is extended to each other. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan have close religious, ethnic, linguistic, historic, and cultural links with the people of Chitral. Chitral is famous for metallic minerals like copper, lead, mercury, granite, gemstone, and metals worth billions.
GB’s Aman-ul-Mulk was considered the greatest ruler of Chitral whose area extended from Asmara in Kunar to the borders of Punial on one hand, to the border of Kafiristan and Dir on the other and watershed of the Hindukush was its northern boundary.
In 1895 Umra Khan of Jandol invaded lower Chitral and had a fierce war with the Chitrali forces. British forces in Chitral were besieged in the Chitral fort. British reinforcement came from Gilgit and finally British rule was extended. According to historian Dr. Dani this is how Yasin, Koh Ghizer and Ishkoman were separated from Chitral. The border between British India and Afghanistan was signed in 1893. Demarcation was carried out between 1893 to 1896 and the Wakhan Corridor was created as a buffer.
The British agreed to pay Rs.50,000 per month for the administration of the corridor. Until 1969, Chitral was ruled by the Katur dynasty as a princely state. The state of Chitral was dissolved on July 28, 1969 and made a district. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Garam Chashma in the South of Chitral remained a logistic supply base to support the Mujahideen.
After 9/11, during the time of Karzai and Ghani, Afghan soil was used against Pakistan extensively by Indian RAW through its 66 training camps. Chitral was not affected by Sufi Muhammad’s Tehreek Nafaz-e-Shariat Mohameddi movement in 1992. Subsequently during the army’s operation in Swat and Malakand, terrorists fled to the Kunar province of Afghanistan under Mullah Fazaullah.
The recent attacks by the banned TTP on the two posts of Chitral Scouts at Bumburait and Jinjiret Koh from Nuristan are unprecedented. The government of Pakistan had already conveyed to the Afghan authorities about the terrorist movement and concentration in Gowardesh, Pitigal, Barg-e-Metal and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar province. During the attack 12 terrorists were killed and 50 were injured. Similarly, in another operation on September 10, the security forces killed another seven terrorists in the Ursoon area of lower Chitral. The entire area is being sanitised to clear it of terrorists in the region.
The Indian media took full advantage of the situation by creating hype and disinformation that the TTP has captured several villages. This is not the first time Chitral came under attack. The region of Arandu of tehsil Darosh was bombed by Soviets forces during their occupation of Afghanistan a number of times.
There has been a resurgence of TTP attacks, mainly in KP and in Balochistan. The diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are tense because of escalating tension and attacks by TTP terrorists equipped with the latest American weapons from safe havens inside Afghanistan. The main crossing at Torkham is closed due to violation of an agreement by the Afghan Taliban. With the resurgence of TTP, thousands of people took to the streets in various cities of KP, protesting against the resurgence of terrorists. They are not ready to sacrifice the hard earned peace under any circumstance.
The people of Chitral, like the people of GB have a great history of being warriors who fought wars with Afghans, the British and others who intruded their territory. Today, once again, the brave people of Chitral stand firmly with the security forces to defend the motherland.

Masud Ahmad Khan

The writer is a retired brigadier and freelance columnist. He tweets @MasudAKhan6.

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