Interior Minister Rehman Malik. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik assured the National Assembly on Monday that law-enforcement personnel would be deployed within two days to secure the Thall-Parachinar road in Kurram Agency and help the besieged people of the area.

He was responding to a point of order by MNA Sajid Hussain Turi from the affected area who subsequently walked out in protest against what he termed the government's indifference to the misery of the people of Parachinar who could not travel on the road because of insecurity. Mr Turi announced that he would join a hunger-strike camp set up several days ago by the affected people from his area in front of the press club here.

The protesters have been moving towards the Parliament House during the assembly session, but Monday's protest was the noisiest when they used loudspeakers to draw the attention of passing lawmakers to their problems.

Despite repeated requests, the government had failed to provide adequate security in the area, Mr Turi said.

“Therefore, I am walking out of the house and joining the hunger strike of people from the area. I will remain there till the government takes concrete measures to address their concerns.”

No other member joined him in the protest, although Dr Abdul Qadir Khanzada of the MQM spoke on the closure of the road.

The interior minister said the Sunni and Shia communities of the area had reached an agreement in the past but had not honoured their commitments.He said he would send a senior officer of his ministry to Peshawar on Tuesday to assess the situation and promised to send security personnel to the area within 48 hours. The minister said because of the complex situation it was impossible to ensure complete peace there without the support of local people.

The road has remained closed since March 25 because of incidents of killing and kidnapping in violation of a truce reached in early February at a jirga presided over by Mr Malik and attended by a large number of elders from all tribal agencies, including Mr Turi, Fata parliamentary leader Munir Orakzai and Sports Minister Shaukatullah, and Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi.

According to some reports, Taliban were part of the deal. As a result of the accord, the Thall-Parachinar and all other roads in Kurram Agency were opened on Feb 5 after four years.

However, on March 13, militants intercepted a Peshawar-bound coach in Mamo Khwar area of Hangu district and killed 11 passengers from Parachinar. BLASPHEMY LAW:

Replying to a question about misuse of the blasphemy law, the interior minister said a number of incidents had come into the knowledge of the government where the law had been invoked to settle personal scores. However, he declined to share specific information, saying that every time something was said about the law it made headlines in the media and sent wrong signals to the people. “Therefore, considering it a highly sensitive issue, I will prefer to personally convey the needed information to the lawmakers concerned.”

Replying to a supplementary question, the minister said there were less chances of misuse of the law in the presence of the independent higher judiciary.

Updated Apr 25, 2011 11:11pm

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