Parachinar families spurn PM’s compensation offer

Published June 30, 2017
PARACHINAR: Christian protesters on Thursday join others already there to demand better security after twin bombings hit a local market on June 23.—Reuters
PARACHINAR: Christian protesters on Thursday join others already there to demand better security after twin bombings hit a local market on June 23.—Reuters

PARACHINAR: The families of victims of Parachinar twin bomb blasts on Thursday rejected a compensation package, announ­ced for them by the prime minister, as the sit-in against Friday’s deadly terrorist attack continued for a seventh consecutive day.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Rs1 million as compensation for the family of each deceased, amid criticism that the government was turning a deaf ear to the demands of the victims of the twin bombings in Parachinar.

“Payment of Rs1 million each for the martyrs and Rs0.5 million each for [those injured in] the Parachinar blasts has been announced,” a spokesperson for the prime minister said in an official announcement, adding that the PM had also issued directions to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra in this regard.

People from different parts of Kurram continued to arrive at the Shaheed Park to join the sit-in and all markets and bazaars in Parachinar remained closed to protest the bombings.

Say amount not on a par with that paid to victims of other tragedies; electronic media not allowed to cover sit-in

The protesters and victims’ relatives said the compensation announced by the prime minister for victims of Parachinar did not match the amount announced for the people of other parts of the country.

The prime minister recently announced a compensation package of Rs2 million for people who lost their lives in the Ahmedpur East oil tanker inferno on June 25.

The protesters said the people of Parachinar were citizens of the country, but the government treated them as lesser citizens, and demanded that the package announced for victims in Parachinar be brought on a par with the compensation given to victims from other areas of the country.

They said the sit-in would continue until Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan visited the area and demanded that the government arrest those behind the bombings.

Meanwhile, authorities did not allow a helicopter carrying former interior minister Rehman Malik and former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi to land at Parachinar airport. The chopper was denied permission to land and sent back.

Authorities also prevented journalists from other areas to reach Parachinar to meet the protesters. Media teams were stopped at the Chhappari check-post in Kurram and sent back, drawing the ire of protesters who condemned the authorities for denying entry to political leaders and media teams.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also rejected the PM’s compensation package for Parachinar victims and demanded that it should be equal to that given to the victims of the oil tanker tragedy.

“The rulers must not allow the perception that a dead body in Punjab fetched Rs 2 million, in Sindh Rs1 million, in Balochistan Rs0.5 million but only Rs300,000 in the tribal areas,” PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.

The senator has also called for a session of the Senate to discuss the Parachinar attack and the gross mishandling of the situation by the security agencies by firing at the citizens protesting against the state’s inability to provide them security.

He demanded a judicial probe into the incident and asked that the local Kurram militia be allowed to play its role in restoring peace under the supervision of the security agencies.

Due to its location and history, Parachinar was already over-militarised, Mr Babar said, adding that it was known to have one of the largest concentrations of security check-posts and CCTV cameras with security personnel on constant patrol.

“Yet, Parachinar has witnessed repeated militant attacks over the past few months and there was no clue of where militants came from and where they went,” he said.

Mr Babar also called for reports of firing on grieving demonstrators to be probed and demanded that the trigger-happy personnel responsible for this excessive use of force be punished.

Syed Irfan Raza from Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2017

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