Cementing Reconciliation

S. Binodkumar Singh Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
On September 5, 2018, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) handed its interim report to President Maithripala Sirisena at the Parliament. OMP Chairman Saliya Peiris handed over the report to the President recommending that the Government provide urgent and immediate relief to the families of the involuntarily disappeared, as their current socio-economic situation was dire; the implementation of a financial aid programme to provide a monthly allowance of SLR 6000 to the surviving spouse, children and parents of these missing persons, who have no permanent income; introduction of a scholarship scheme under the Ministry of Education for the children of missing persons in the form of a monthly allowance of SLR 2000 to cover essential education expenses required for the completion of their primary and secondary education; and the introduction of an employment quota of one percent within the state sector for family members of the missing.
Tribal Elders: The Curse of War
On July 31, 2018, two tribal elders, Malik Salam Khan and Malik Niaz Khan, were shot dead in an incident of targeted killing in Miramshah town, North Waziristan District, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) merged with KP on May 31, 2018]. Family sources said that Malik Salam Khan and Malik Niaz Khan were going from Tappi village to Miramshah when unidentified assailants targeted their vehicle.
Blind Optimism
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Mid Year Report released on July 15, 2018, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2018. 1,692 civilians were killed during the first six months of 2018 – the most recorded in the same time period in any year over the last decade since the agency began documenting civilian casualties in 2009. There were 1,672 civilian deaths in 2017, 1644 in 2016 and 1615 in 2015 in the same time period.
Maoists: No place to Hide
On July 19, 2018, at least eight cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), including three women, were killed after an encounter that ensued between the Maoists and the Security Forces (SFs) near Timinar and Pusnar villages in Bijapur District of Chhattisgarh. Sundarraj P., Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (anti-Naxal operations, ANO), disclosed that the gun battle between the Maoists and the SFs took place while a joint team of the District Reserve Guard and Special Task Force were out on an anti-Maoist operation. During search subsequent to the encounter, along with the bodies of the Maoists, at least two INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifles, two .303 rifles, one 12 bore gun and a few muzzle loading guns were recovered from the encounter site. The identities of the slain Maoists are yet to be ascertained.
Murdering Democracy
On July 13, 2018, at least 149 civilians were killed and 186 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up targeting a political rally of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) at Dringarh village in Mastung District of Balochistan. According to the bomb disposal squad (BDS), up to 15 kilograms of explosive material was used in the incident. The dead included Siraj Raisani, the BAP candidate from National Assembly seat Province Balochistan–35 (PB-35, Mastung). Siraj’s elder brother, Nawab Aslam Raisani, was the Chief Minister of Balochistan Province between 2008 and 2013. Most of the other victims were residents of Kanak and Dringarh areas, who had invited Raisani to announce their support for him. The Islamic State (IS) and the ‘Ghazi force Lal Masjid’ wing of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) separately claimed responsibility for the attack.  
Maoists: Extreme Measures
On July 6, 2018, cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) killed a civilian, identified as Raiju Wadde, accusing him of being a ‘police informer’, at Tiralgarh village under the Bande Police Station area in the Kanker District of Chhattisgarh. Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jaiprakash Badhai disclosed that CPI-Maoist cadres raided Wadde's house, dragged him out on to the streets and assaulted him. Subsequently, the Maoist conducted a ‘jan adalat’ (people’s/ praja/ kangaroo court) in the village and shot Wadde dead.
Border Headaches
On June 24, 2018, a Pakistan Army soldier, identified as Sepoy Niaz Ali, was killed in an exchange of fire across the Pak-Afghan border in the North Waziristan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on May 31, 2018]. "We shall... complete the fencing undeterred," Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor vowed, as he tweeted news of the sepoy's death. He added that Afghanistan’s cooperation was required [for fencing of the border], and that this was in the mutual interest of both countries.
Will the Tail Wag the Dog?
For decades now, the Pakistan establishment, including both political parties and the military leadership in pursuit of their own agendas, have propped up and exploited Islamist extremist and terrorist formations. Increasingly, however, these radical groups are realizing their own power and capacity for mass mobilization and, instead of operating as proxies for others, seek a direct political role for themselves.
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