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ANP leader receive death threats

Updated August 14, 2019

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The Awami National Party’s provincial general secretary (centre) and elected member of the provincial assembly from Buner district, Sardar Hussain Babak, received a death threat letter from a purported militant organisation on Eid day. — Photo courtesy Sardar Hussain Babak Facebook/File
The Awami National Party’s provincial general secretary (centre) and elected member of the provincial assembly from Buner district, Sardar Hussain Babak, received a death threat letter from a purported militant organisation on Eid day. — Photo courtesy Sardar Hussain Babak Facebook/File

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party’s provincial general secretary and elected member of the provincial assembly from Buner district, Sardar Hussain Babak, received a death threat letter from a purported militant organisation on Eid day.

Sardar Hussain Babak, who belongs to a political family of Totalai in Buner district, has won general elections from his constituency three times and survived three attacks.

“I received a death threat letter on Eid day - as Eid gift – perhaps,” said Mr Babak, who was in his hometown to celebrate the religious occasion.

Suspected militant letter asks Babak to ‘reform or get ready for attacks’

He also shared a copy of the letter with Dawn on Watsapp.

When contacted, district police officer Irshad Khan said the ANP leader had informed police about death threats and sent them a copy of threat letter as well.

The police examined the letter and could not say for sure it was written by the alleged militant organisation.

DPO Irshad Khan said the police with the help of security forces were conducting operations against suspected militants in Elam Mountains but they had so far not apprehended any such elements during search operations in bazaars.

He said no one had openly come to police with extortion complaints, too.

The letter posted purportedly by Azizur Rehman, commander of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Buner Malakand division, threatened Sardar Babak with suicide attacks, bombing and target killing.

The letter, which was written in Pashto language and was replete with grammatical mistakes, warned the ANP leader to reform or get ready for the next life as this was the final warning to him.

However, instead of being more concerned about the death threats issued to him, Mr Babak was more concerned that the local Taliban militants had resurfaced in the Buner valley and the people were living under fear.

The ANP leader said militants were seen to have become active in parts of Upper Buner like Pir Baba, Bhatai, Kaliel, Malikpur, Shalbandai, Pacha, Balo Khan and Doqada villages of Buner.

The Buner district having Sufi Saint Pir Baba shrine was occupied by militants associated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat in 2009 before the military conducted an offensive against them.

“The militants have resurfaced in bazaars and are extorting money from locals. They have been seen in many villages. People are living under fear,” he said adding that the people were just silent as they seemed to have no trust in the local administration and police.

DPO Irshad Khan said he had also been informed by the ANP leader about the threatening letter and a police team had been examining it.

He, however, said the letter seemed to have language that was not very familiar to the one used by militants in the past.

The DPO was elusive about the suspected militant activity in Buner markets and said the police set up checkpoints in bazaars but didn’t arrest anyone involved in such activity.

He however, said police conducted an operation yesterday in Elam mountainous area and that such operations were conducted against suspected militants in dense and tough terrain of Elam mountainous region from time to time to bust militant hideouts.

Mr Babak complained that the people in Upper Buner in particular were living under fear as the police and security forces failed to respond to people’s complaints.

The ANP has won election three times. Even when his party faced a colossal defeat in the 2013 general election, he won the provincial assembly seat.

He was attacked during an election campaign but he escaped unhurt.

Others in his party were not so lucky as in June this year, ANP Peshawar district president Sartaj Khan was gunned down, while another young leader, Haroon Bilour, was killed in a suicide bombing in Peshawar in July last year during an election campaign.

The ANP leaders have been under attack for their anti-Taliban stance.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2019