Monday, March 28, 2011

KP governor vows to restore peace in Kurram


Monday, March 28, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Khyber Pakhtun- khwa Governor Syed Barrister Masood Kausar on Sunday pledged to restore peace to the long-bleeding Kurram Agency by ensuring implementation of the Jirga decisions taken in Murree in 2008. 

The governor, who hails from Kohat, is greatly pained by the wave of terror attacks in recent days and abduction of unarmed civilians, including women and children, who were heading for Parachinar from Peshawar.

"This is intolerable and we are gathering facts about these violations of the peace accord. I have directed the concerned departments to get ready for .prompt action against the perpetrators hell-bent on triggering violence," the governor said during a chat with The News here. 

The elder brother of a leading poet, late Syed Ahmad Shah, popularly known as Ahmad Faraz, who assumed the office early last month, has witnessed at least two Kurram Agency-related terrorist attacks taking place since then and feels worried about the gory phenomenon.

Last Friday, some vans, on their way to Parachinar from Peshawar, were intercepted by a group of militants, who gunned down at least eight passengers and abducted over 40 persons, including children and women. About a week back, in a similar incident, militants had shot dead 11 persons belonging to Parachinar.

Explaining his strategy of restoration of peace in the restive region, he said being a law-minded person, he would give a full chance to the Murree accord, encouraging the peace-lovers while at the same time, going tough against the saboteurs. 

In reply to a question, he said that of course, the state writ was a big issue but even more sensitive was the spilling of blood of innocent citizens of Pakistan. "Life and human blood is very important and I am deeply concerned over the loss of human lives in these wanton acts of frenzy," the governor contended. 

When asked why in his view, the previous peace initiatives failed to bring peace to the region, housing over 0.5 million people, he declined to answer the question and said he would like to make maximum efforts for peace restoration. 

Former Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani, whom he replaced, had also failed to bring any significant improvement in the situation in the agency. 

About the lack of security at and around Thall-Parachinar Road, the main link between the under siege agency and rest of Pakistan, he said measures were being taken to make the road safe for travel and transportation of goods. 

The road has been mostly close due to increased militant activity for the last four years, which has resulted in acute shortage of medicines and daily use food items: prices of several kitchen items that are available there, are more than double. Moreover, routine life remains paralysed there. 

The truck and bus convoys, even in escort of security agencies, have been attacked and the militants have only targeted the unarmed persons, torched the food supplies and medicines. Two legislators of the agency, Munir Khan Orakzai and Sajid Hussain Turi have hardly got a chance to visit their constituencies after the general election.

The two MNAs are part of the treasury benches and feel sorry at the fact that it hardly took the government a few weeks to restore peace and crush the militants in Malakand but it has not been able to repeat that performance in the agency. 

Without elaborating, the governor said measures were being taken to encourage peace-loving people and to punish those who were found guilty of breach of the peace accord. 

The warring Bangash and Turi tribes had signed an agreement in Murree to work for peace and anyone found in violation of it, would be fined Rs60 million. However, the government is widely blamed for lack of security and not going strongly against the militants.

Lashkar-e-Islam founder Munir Shakir arrested

 Monday, March 28, 2011
BARA: The security forces arrested the founder of banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) Mufti Munir Shakir in Sadda tehsil of Kurram Agency, official sources said on Sunday.

The sources said the security forces arrested him during a checking at a checkpost in lower Kurram Agency and shifted him to an unidentified location for an investigation.

Haji Namdar, head of Amr Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar, or promotion of virtue and prohibition vice organisation, hired the services of Mufti Munir Shakir, a firebrand religious scholar, as on-air preacher in Qambarkhel area of Bara in 2003. Later, he developed differences with Namdar and shifted to Malikdinkhel area of Bara where he launched an illegal FM radio with the support of the local tribe.

Before coming to Bara, Mufti Munir Shakir, a resident of Karboogha Sharif in Hangu 

district, was expelled by political administration from a maddrassa in Kurram tribal region due to his extreme views against a particular sect.

Follower of strict Deobandi form of Islam, Mufti Shakir attracted a large number of people to learn the basics of Islam in Bara and created intolerance against Afghan national Pir Saif-ur-Rehman, belonging to Barelvi school of thought, through his broadcasts.

Pir Saif also launched his own radio to counter the propaganda of Mufti Shakir, which led to sectarian conflict in the area. In a bloody clash between the two groups around 20 followers of Pir Saif were killed and dozens other were injured in Sordhand area of Bara by the end of 2005.

Finally Shakir organised his supporters and laid the foundation for Lashakr-e-Islam in January 2006. The prevailing sectarian tension in the area, political administration expelled Pir Saif 

and Mufti Shakir, the two non-local clerics, from the area in February and March 2006, respectively.

Following the expulsion of Mufti Shakir, Mangal Bagh became the leader of LI and pursued the extreme views of their teacher, which forced the residents of Maidan in Tirah valley to form Ansarul Islam under cleric Qazi Mehboobul Haq who advocates moderate form of Islam.

Hundreds of people had been killed and as many injured in clashes between the two groups over the ritual differences and lust for power. Mufti Shakir was arrested by security agencies at the Karachi Airport when he was ready to leave Pakistan in May 2006. He was released on August 20, 2007. 

He tried to come back to Bara and lead the LI but Mangal Bagh, who had gained enough power at the time, refused his entry into the area against the wishes of a large number of Bara residents.

The sources said that in early 2008, Mufti Shakir shifted to his hometown Karboogha in Hangu district and remained there till his capture by security forces. However, some sources said that he had joined the Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan and remained in Orakzai and Kurram agencies.

Elders blame govt for Kurram accord failure


Monday, March 28, 2011

PARACHINAR: Tribal elders of the violence-affected Kurram Agency have held the government responsible for the failure of a peace agreement signed in Islamabad recently and killing and abduction of tribesmen in the recent spate of violence. 

Addressing a large gathering of tribesmen in upper tehsil of Kurram Agency, the elders including Syed Abid Hussain Al-Hussaini, Allama Muhammad Afsar, Allama Muhammad Hussain Tahiri, Mussarat Bangash, Malik Iqbal Turi, Malik Niaz Muhammad and Malik Nisar condemned the attacks on Parachinar-bound passenger coaches.

They flayed the killing of 15 passengers and abduction of 40 others after militants attacked the vehicles on way to Parachinar on Saturday last. The kidnapped travellers are still untraced, the elders said, adding that the government had failed to provide safety and security to its citizens. 

They said the state writ could nowhere be seen in lower and central tehsils of Kurram Agency where ├Čmilitants have maintained their checkpoints and hideouts as the government is not bothered about them.├« They alleged that the area was completely governed by the militants and many people had migrated to safer places as they were terrorised by militants.

The elders accused the government of keeping quiet over militancy in the area, saying that the government had deceived the tribal people of Kurram Agency in the name of the peace agreement. They said the government could not implement the agreement about the re-opening of roads connecting Kurram Agency with Peshawar and safe passage for passengers of upper Kurram. 

They added that if the government was interested in establishing peace in Kurram Agency, then the foremost priority must be action against militants in parts of this tribal belt who had established parallel government in the areas under their sway. However, they accused the establishment of being involved in the unabated violence in Kurram Agency. They said securing highways and ensuring the foolproof security of the travellers was the prime responsibility of the government.

They asked the government to take serious steps for the safe recovery of the kidnapped travellers and take action against the perpetrators forthwith. The tribal elders announced a grand Jirga of residents tomorrow (Tuesday) to decide future line of action if the government failed to redress their grievances.