LANDI KOTAL, March 28: A tribal jirga, comprising elders of Bara tehisl of Khyber Agency, has failed to convince Mangal Bagh, head of a banned militant organisation, to shun violence and surrender unconditionally.
Sources told Dawn that members of the jirga remained at an undisclosed location in Tirah for almost three days and returned to Bara on Tuesday empty handed owing to the rigid attitude of Lashkar-i-Islam chief Mangal Bagh.
They said that the jirga had the backing of local political administration and an important personality of Bara. However, Bakhtiar Mohmand, assistant political agent, denied having any knowledge of the visit and efforts of jirga.
According to sources, Mangal Bagh told the jjrga members in plain words that he would not agree to any peace initiative until security forces stopped the ongoing operation against his organisation and released all his arrested colleagues.
The jirga members urged Mangal Bagh to open a channel of negotiations with government so that the ongoing operation could be halted temporarily. Mangal Bagh, however, rejected the proposal and demanded a ceasefire and release of all his group members.
The jirga members were not willing to disclose their identity and outcome of their three-day parleys with Lashkar-i-Islam chief, sources said. It is yet to be known whether they will go to Tirah again with some new proposals or will end their efforts.
It is pertinent to mention here that security launched a military operation against Lashkar-i-Islam last year in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency.
Thousands of Bara people have shifted to Jalozai camp in Nowshera owing to the ongoing militray operation.
The Zakhakhel tribesmen have also raised an armed force against Mangal Bagh. Both the groups have been engaged in fierce clashes. Each of the groups makes claims about inflicting losses on its rival and capturing bunkers from it.
It was reported in some sections of media last week that Mangal Bagh was killed in a clash in Tirah valley of the tribal region.
Even the federal minister for interior had warned other militants that they would meet the fate of Mangal Bagh.
Dawn has learnt from reliable sources that some commanders of Haqqani group are busy in negotiating a peace deal between Lashkar-i-Islam and its opponent Tawheedul Islam, mostly comprising of Zakhakhel tribesmen.
The secret negotiations are said to be underway at an undisclosed location for the last four days with no positive outcome so far.
Meanwhile, security forces blew up the Gud Malang base of Lashkar-i-Islam in Meelwaat area of Akkakhel in Bara on Wednesday.
It was for the third time that the said so-called base was dynamited by the security forces.
Forces also destroyed the house of Shoaib in the same area during a search operation. Officials said that they faced no resistance during the daylong operation.