Representatives of the Haqqani militant network engaged by Pakistani authorities to broker a peace deal between rival tribesmen in the country's restive northwestern tribal belt have reportedly demanded Rs2 crore from each of the factions to bring back normalcy.
A member of a 50-strong 'jirga' or council that held talks in Islamabad during November 28-December 7 told PTI on condition of anonymity that Ibrahim Haqqani, who represented the Haqqani network, demanded Rs2 crore each from the Shia Turi tribe, the Sunni Mengal tribe and other communities in Kurram Agency to restore peace and reopen closed roads.
"Pay me the amount and I will guarantee smooth passage, opening of all roads blocked due to skirmishes between the Sunnis and Shias and maintenance of peace in the area," the Haqqani representative was quoted as saying by the jirga member.
The jirga member was returning to Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency, following the parleys.
Over the past three years, hundreds of tribesmen have died in clashes between Shias and Sunnis in the region.
The situation was exacerbated after Taliban fighters entered the region and began backing the Sunni tribesmen.
Elders of the Turi tribe rejected the demand and said they would ensure the security of their tribe by themselves.
The elders of the Mengal tribe were "somewhat flexible" in their response to the demand, the jirga member said.
The talks between the tribal elders and the representatives of the Haqqani network were suspended till December 25 without any decision on paying the money sought by the militants.
The jirga also met Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik and demanded the implementation of the Murree Accord signed last year, under which the rival tribes had agreed on the transfer of lands through the Revenue Department and rehabilitation of people who had left their homes in Kurram Agency during the conflict.
The jirga included parliamentarian Sajid Turi and members of the Senate or upper house of parliament from Kurram Agency.
Most key roads and highways in Kurram Agency have been closed for over two years. This has affected the supply of food and other essential goods to the region. The people of Kurram Agency have been forced to travel to Peshawar via Afghanistan.
The Shia tribesmen have prevented the Taliban from extending their influence to all parts of Kurram Agency.
Reports have suggested that the Haqqani network is trying to broker a peace deal so that its fighters can use Kurram Agency to sneak into Afghanistan.