Pakistan: Militants Take Millions
- Payment to Wana militants: probe into missing millions initiated
By Ismail Khan
PESHAWAR, May 2: Reports about payments made to militant commanders in
the restive South Waziristan tribal region to enable them to clear
debt taken from Al Qaeda are being investigated following allegations
that a key contact had made off with millions, leaving a paltry sum to
the end beneficiaries.
Credible sources tell Dawn that a national security agency has
launched the investigation into revelations that the key contact for
the five militant commanders had short-changed them.
The militant commanders who battled security forces hunting Al Qaeda
in the rugged tribal region for over two years before signing peace
deals have accused the go-between of having cheated them of the bulk
of the money paid to them.
The allegations surfaced after Dawn in a report on February 8 quoted a
senior military commander as saying that the government had paid Rs50
million to the militants to enable them to pay back the debt they
claimed to have taken from Al Qaeda to finance activities against the
The militants, however, maintained that the money they had received
was compensation for the damage they had suffered and denied having
borrowed any money from Al Qaeda.
The once most wanted militants Haji Sharif, Maulavi Abbas, Javed
Karmazkhel, Haji Mohammad Omar and Maulavi Abdul Aziz signed peace
deals with the government in November last year, pledging to live
peacefully and not to shelter foreign militants.
When details of the peace deals were made public, the government did
not say that it was also secretly negotiating to pay a hefty amount of
money to the five militants as a quid pro quo.
Corps Commander, Peshawar, Lt-Gen Safdar Hussain had told reporters
that the militants had initially demanded Rs170 million to pay off Al
Qaeda debts but later agreed to reduce their demand to Rs50 million.
Dawn's own investigation revealed that the payments had been made in
three instalments. Maulvai Abbas and Javed Karmazkhel received Rs25
million at the Governor's House in Peshawar on November 29 last year,
Haji Mohammad Omar got his share of Rs10 million on January 11 and
Haji Sharif was paid Rs15 million on February 4.
The story took a new twist when at least two of the four commanders
complained to the military authorities of having been short-changed by
The Director-General of the ISPR, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, said that
the army was in no way involved in making payments to the militants.
"If at all anything was paid, Governor's Fata Secretariat should be
asked about it," he said.
Brig (retd) Mahmood Shah, who relinquished the charge of Secretary
Security (Fata), confirmed that the militants had complained to the
military authorities as well as Fata Secretariat about having been
"I think the matter was under investigation at some level," he told Dawn.
Javed Karmazkhel, talking to Dawn on telephone from Wana in South
Waziristan, alleged that soon after their meeting at the Governor's
House, Col (retd) Inamullah Wazir, who had helped broker the peace
deals, left with stacks of cash, asking them to wait at a particular
place in Peshawar.
"He claimed that he had to pay others before we could get our share,"
Mr Karmazkhel, who had signed the peace deal together with other
militant commanders, said. "He was dropping names, big names," Mr
Col (retd) Wazir, when approached for comments on his cellphone,
refused to say anything on the record.
According to Mr Karmazkhel's version of the story, also corroborated
by another commander, they were eventually paid a total of Rs4.1
million, while another Rs200,000 was paid to some tribal elders who
had also played a role in the entire effort.
A hand-written receipt, a copy of which is available with Dawn,
corroborates the story. The receipt, dated December 2, 2004 and signed
by Col (retd) Wazir, acknowledges a payment of Rs4.1 million. "This
money is for those who have suffered physical and material losses. You
should distribute this money through mutual consultation," the five
line receipt reads, while giving out the names of the recipients.
Mr Karmazkhel confirmed the existence of the December 2 receipt and
said that the matter was brought to the notice of the Corps Commander.
"We asked the Corps Commander to intervene and resolve this matter or
else let us deal with him in accordance with our tribal customs," he said.
"Gen Safdar promised to help recover the money. But I am surprised
that the whole might of the law cannot get hold of one person and seek
explanation," Mr Karmazkhel complained.
He denied having received the money for paying off any Al Qaeda debt.
"We did not demand anything. We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is our
country. But our people have suffered both physical and material
losses which run into millions of rupees."
"Whoever has siphoned off that money has usurped the rights of the
poor and hapless people. Allah will deal with them in His own way."
While the mystery of the missing millions remains unsolved, one thing
is clear that the militant commanders had to cut a sorry figure before
their fighters and supporters who too, like their leaders, wanted to
Sources in the tribal region tell Dawn that new lists of tribesmen are
being prepared for compensation and efforts are being made to procure
an additional sum to make up for the untraced money.
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