PESHAWAR: Members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday expressed concern about the killing and maiming of children in landmine explosions in North and South Waziristan tribal districts and demanded of the relevant authorities to demine the region.
The issue was raised by opposition JUI-F’s lawmaker from South Waziristan Hafiz Hassamuddin, who brought a panaflex banner with pictures of the children killed in a landmine explosion on Tuesday.
During a session chaired by Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, Mr Hassamuddin delivered an impassioned speech over the killing of children in both Waziristan districts.
He wondered how long the killing and incapacitation of children would continue.
Chair orders holding of MPAs’ meeting with CM, governor on issue
The lawmaker said three children were killed and two suffered injuries when a toy bomb went off in Ladha tehsil of South Waziristan tribal district.
The media reported that the children had found a toy-like device near their home in Tangi Badeenzai area and the device exploded as they began playing with it.
“I am displaying the pictures of the landmine blast victims (children) hoping that the issue will shake the conscience of the leaders into action,” he said.
“I don’t see any hurdle if the authorities really want to tackle this challenge.”
The lawmaker also highlighted three landmine explosions, which left many children dead and maimed. A boy was critically injured in the May 28 incident, a girl lost limbs in May 30 explosion and three children were killed and two were seriously injured in the June 1 incident.
He said 300 children had so far fallen victim to landmines in South Waziristan district.
“The government and state institutions should collectively look into the matter and find a solution to the landmine menace.
“If the government cannot address the problem, it should tell us so that the people should migrate from their villages,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Mohammad Akram Khan Durrani said the Monday killing of children in landmine explosion was very tragic.
He demanded of the government to take notice of the frequent landmine explosions.
The opposition leader said the chief minister should discuss the issue with the corps commander of Peshawar and make efforts for clearing the area from landmines.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Khan directed the government to arrange a meeting of lawmakers from the merged areas with the chief minister and governor to raise their issues with them.
Labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai informed the house that landmine explosions were a big challenge for the government after the elimination of terrorism.
He said a large area had been cleared from landmines in both Waziristan districts, while efforts were under way to remove the remaining.
“The lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches will sit together to deliberate on this serious issue and find a possible solution,” he said.
During question hour, the opposition lawmakers came down hard on the ‘poor performance’ of the health department and its minister.
Several questions related to the health department were placed on the agenda for Wednesday but the health department failed to produce response to them.
PPP MPA Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai, whose three questions were not replied by the health department, alleged that high-ups in the health department had enough time for making money but they had no time to prepare replies to her questions.
She said she had submitted the question with the assembly’s secretariat on April 26 and the assembly secretariat forwarded the questions to health department on May 5.
“The health department didn’t bother to submit reply to my questions in a month,” she said.
Other lawmakers also criticised the health department for not responding to their questions.
The chair directed the assembly’s secretary to write a letter of displeasure to the health secretary and ordered the writing of a letter to the chief secretary seeking directions for secretaries of all government departments to submit replies to the house two days before their placement on the agenda.
The chair adjourned the session until Thursday.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2021