PESHAWAR: He used to be the first provincial minister to reach the spot whenever a bomb blast targeted public, politicians or security forces but now, Mian Iftikhar Hussain stands alone to face threats, be it from terrorists or political opponents.
On the face of it, Mian Iftikhar is a tragic figure. His only son was killed and his house in Pabbi, Nowshera came under attack. He has no personal enmity or dispute but remained on the hit list of militants when he was the chief spokesman of the government during the Awami National Party’s five years stint in the province.
If he survives that, his political opponents would see him dead as the recent episode of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf hordes attacking him with murderous intent during the local government elections in Pabbi shows.
He remained safe miraculously when a violent mob besieged him. He was arrested in a murder case on June 1, but he was falsely implicated in the case, which is lingering on. The deceased’s father also said Mian Iftikhar was innocent.
Intelligence agencies, police advise ANP leader to limit activities over threat to life
Sources said intelligence agencies and police had informed Mian Iftikhar about possible attack on his life and cautioned him to give up his ‘public engagements’.
District police officer Rab Nawaz said intelligence agencies and his department had informed Mian Iftikhar before Eidul Fitr about risk of an attack.
“He (Mian Iftikhar) was told that some people are out on their mission to target you,” said DPO and confirmed that ANP leader hadn’t come to his home in Pabbi since long.
Rab Nawaz said local police provided security whenever the ANP leader visited Pabbi and that three policemen had been detailed for his security.
The ANP has been out of power in the province and centre since defeat in the 2013 general elections but militants are still chasing Mian Iftikhar like shadow.
The country’s top intelligence outfits recently cautioned him to curtail his movement and public activities. He was told to avoid public meetings and unnecessary activities due to threat to his life.
Sources said a suspected person, who had planned to carry out suicide attack on Mian Iftikhar, had been arrested.
They said after interrogating the suspected attacker, Mohammad Omar, security agencies arrested around 20 people, who had corroborated the plan. The DPO, however, expressed ignorance about the arrests.
Currently, Mian Iftikhar lives like a ‘suspect’.
Despite potential threat, the police have not deployed personnel at his house. He can neither go to hometown nor rent a house in Peshawar due to the threat. His armoured vehicle provided by the party was badly damaged by violent workers of PTI in Pabbi.
“Life and death is in the hand of the Almighty Allah but life has become difficult,” Mian Iftikhar said, adding that he was under pressure to give up political activities.
Militants had killed his son Mian Rashid Hussain in Pabbi in July 2010 and proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility.
Later, his house was also attacked.
Sources said few days before Eidul Fitr, some well-wishers had advised Mian Iftikhar to avoid engagements.
Later, DIG Mardan Region also called him and informed him about threat to his life.
The ANP leader has been going through agonies not because of his personal enmity but due to his role to defend his people and state against terrorism. However, now, he has been virtually abandoned by the federal and provincial governments.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2015