PESHAWAR, May 4: The peace bodies in Peshawar have refused to support police for protecting candidates and voters on the election day on May 11.
Recently, the provincial caretaker government had directed police to ensure security of candidates and avail themselves of the support of peace bodies throughout the province.
However, peace bodies operating in Peshawar are not willing to cooperate with police for the purpose, saying the previous government totally ignored them and didn’t provide them with the promised arms, ammunitions and food for fight against militants.
Representatives of these peace bodies told Dawn on Saturday that they had lost lives of workers and relatives and suffered injuries, but the government didn’t compensate them so far.
According to the heads of peace bodies in Badbher, Shaikh Mohammadi, Mashogagar and Telaband areas, the government has withdrawn special force security from them, so they are not ready to provide security to candidates and voters on May 11.
They said self protection was the top priority for them as children of many slain workers of peace bodies were still crying for compensation.
A police official said on condition of anonymity that the government had directed police to take all possible steps for ensuring foolproof security of candidates and voters on the election day but had yet to provide them with the required funds, vehicles and manpower.
He said police were unable to cover the all election meetings and escort them candidates during their door-to-door campaigns.
“We have divided our staff in such a way that we cover the entire city and give security to candidates at the same time. Candidate are holding meetings without informing us and thus, creating problems for us,” he said.
The official said in some areas, the station house officers had restricted public meetings at their own and persuaded candidates to confine their election meetings to enclosures and boundary walls for security reasons.
About the government’s proposal to get support from local peace bodies, he said Qaumi Lashkars had almost stopped functioning and that they were not ready to extend support to police as the last ANP-led provincial government had discouraged them.
When contacted, head of Adezai Qaumi Lashkar Fazal Malik said police had contacted him for cooperation with regard to security of candidates and voters on the polling day but it was not possible for the peace body to support them.
“It is the police’s duty to protect candidates and voters. We are fighting militancy and have nothing to do with the election security plan,” he said, adding that the government was using them for own interests and avoiding providing them with arms, ammunitions and food.
Mr Malik said the volunteers had been fighting Taliban for around five years using own limited resources but the government was unwilling to support them.
He said Taliban were sending threats to peace bodies daily but peace volunteers were committed to continuing with the fight against them until their elimination.
“Had we not stopped fighting Taliban, they would have targeted many anti-Taliban people in Peshawar. My father, brother, one cousin and many relatives were killed in attacks and targeted killings but the government did not compensate us though the people killed in other parts of the province were compensated,” he said.
Similarly, Mokamil Shah of Mashokhel also complained of the government’s unwillingness to support peace bodies.
He said police bosses avoided taking telephonic calls of the peace body workers when they were in trouble.
Mr Shah said some local youths were recruited in the special police force for the monthly salary of Rs10,000 but many of them were later sacked for unidentified reasons.
“We are ready to support police but the government should first provide us with necessary items of daily use and food,” he said.
Head of the Bazidkhel Peace Body Asif Khan said he was in contact with police for cooperation against terrorists but the government was not ready to provide to the anti-Taliban volunteers with arms, ammunitions and ration.