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A facsimile of alleged Taliban extortion money receipt.
A facsimile of alleged Taliban extortion money receipt.

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar district council was informed on Monday that the truckers bound for Afghanistan were being forced to pay Rs5,000 extortion per truck at the provincial city’s fruit and vegetable market in the name of the Afghan Taliban.

Speaking on a point of order, opposition leader Syed Zahir claimed that unidentified men were collecting extortion money from the truckers transporting fruits and vegetables to Afghanistan in Peshawar and those not making that payment got threatening calls from someone based in Afghanistan.

He said the truckers had no option but to pay extortion money.

DC declares matter dreadful, says will take it up with police for action

He distributed a receipt of Rs5,000 extortion payment to journalists and councillors.

The receipt carrying the logo of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Economic and Finance Commission had the truck’s number, the amount received, driver’s name and other details on it.

When contacted, several truck drivers and fruit and vegetable traders confirmed the collection of extortion money.

“I don’t know whether the people collecting extortion are the Afghan Taliban or not but it is true that money is being extorted from the people in the fruit and vegetable markets,” a vegetable dealer told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

He said the illegal activity had been going on for around two months.

He dealer said two unidentified people riding a motorcycle collected money from drivers as fruits or vegetables were loaded onto trucks.

“If the motorcyclists miss trucks inside the fruit and vegetable markets, then they catch them on the Ring Road to force drivers to pay extortion money before going away,” he said.

A fruit dealer said he and other businessmen couldn’t resist militants.

He wondered if businessmen denied the militants extortion money, then who would protect them.

Opposition leader Syed Zahir demanded of Peshawar deputy commissioner Dr Imran Hamid Sheikh, who was present in the house, to take notice of the extortion.

The DC declared the matter ‘dreadful’ and said the matter would be taken up with the police for action.

The councillors also expressed concerns about the posting of teachers from other districts to Peshawar’s government schools.

On a point of order, Saidan Shah asked about the rationale for such postings and wondered where the teachers with Peshawar domicile would go if the residents of other districts would be posted to the capital city’s schools.

“It (such postings) is an injustice with locals,” he said.

The member demanded of district nazim Mohammad Asim Khan to take notice of the matter and develop a mechanism to stop such postings.

He said the education department should not post teachers to and transfer from Peshawar district without his consent.

The councillors also came down hard on the Pesco officials over the alleged corrupt practices in the ongoing crackdown on power theft.

They said when the Pesco officials arrested people for illegal power connections, most of them got secured their release after bribing the former.

Councillors including Shamsul Bari, Mubashir Manzoor, Jamil Khan, Juma Raz Khan, Said Bacha, Raham Dil Nawaz complained about rampant corruption in Pesco.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018