Thursday, September 10, 2009

Self-immolation threatened if Parachinar not ‘rescued’

 Self-immolation threatened if Parachinar not 'rescued'

Thursday, September 10, 2009

By Mumtaz Alvi

ISLAMABAD: A resident of 'under siege' Kurram Agency has managed to reach Islamabad and threatened self-immolation if the government failed to save hundreds of thousands of tribesmen from starvation and atrocities of the militants.

The 54-year-old, Azmat Ali, who is of a sound mind and apparently in good health, said he was able to sneak out of the agency after persistent efforts, which was virtually under the control of the militants for the last three years. He claimed to have been associated with daily Jang for the last 25 years as a correspondent in Parachinar.

Asked why he had decided to set himself on blaze, Azmat Ali's reply was that he had run out of patience to see the miseries of his people. He said populations from Alizai to Parachinar and adjoining areas were facing worst type of terror.

About the identity of the militants, he claimed that they comprised foreigners as well as tribals from North and South Waziristan agencies. Azmat Ali, who is a founding member of the Parachinar Peace Committee, claimed that he had loads of complaints from both Sunnis and Shias about the brutalities of the militants, who were less than 200 in number, but were influential and resourceful.

He said 20-kg flour bag was being sold at Rs5,000 in Parachinar and even common medicines were not available, what to talk of life-saving drugs. "The cries and deaths of the young and old due to starvation and non-availability of medicines have not reached the corridors of powers yet, otherwise, we would have been saved from this agonising predicament," Azmat Ali told The News here on Wednesday.

The distressed resident of Kurram Agency claimed that he had faxed SOS to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani, but the situation in the agency remained unchanged. "Either the government lacks the commitment to save us from death and destruction or faces pressure from certain quarters to discharge its constitutional obligation to rescue us," he said when asked why the government had not been able to rectify the situation.

The issue had many times been raised by the legislators from Kurram Agency in the Parliament but no concrete measures could be taken so far to address it. This reporter tried to get comment of the Interior Ministry on the issue, but its Spokesman Rashid Bashir Mazari did not respond to the phone calls.

There are unconfirmed reports that lawmakers from the agency, who are facing immense pressure from their voters, are considering resignation from the National Assembly's standing committees.

This correspondent tried to get comments from Munir Khan Orakzai, who also leads the Fata group of MNAs, and Sajid Hussain Toori, who is from Parachinar, but they were also not available.



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