• Protesters end hours-long demo in Swat, bury van driver’s body after negotiations
• Thousands rally in Mingora, Haripur, Battagram
• Govt spokesperson blames attacks on ‘splinter groups’ opposed to TTP talks
SWAT: The family of a school van driver, killed in a gun attack on Monday, ended their over 40-hour protest following successful negotiations with the administration and buried his body, as various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa erupted with massive protests on Tuesday in solidarity with the people of Swat.
The van driver was shot dead and two schoolchildren injured in a targeted attack on Monday morning in the Gulibagh area of Charbagh tehsil. The incident sparked anger and protests across the district, after which students and teachers of private schools joined hands with the civil society and staged a protest at Nishat Chowk.
Earlier, the driver’s family and fellow villagers had placed his body on the main road and staged a sit-in at Gulibagh, demanding the arrest of the culprits.
Mingora echoed with slogans of “No more terrorism” and “We demand peace from the state” on Tuesday as hundreds of people took to the streets against the recent incidents of terrorism in the district. They demanded the government arrest the attackers immediately, warning that otherwise they would march on the federal capital.
Protests were also held in Haripur and Battagram districts of KP.
The mammoth rally in Mingora was organized by Swat Olasi Pasoon and attended by thousands of people, including civil society members, students, teachers, lawyers, doctors, transporters, and youth.
Prominent among the participants were Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement chief Manzoor Pashteen, Swat Olasi Pasoon President Fawad Khan, veteran politician Afrasiab Khattak, Awami National Party (ANP) KP President Aimal Wali Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, ANP parliamentary leader in the KP Assembly Sardar Hussain Babak, Mingora city Mayor Shahid Khan and other elders of Swat and KP.
Editorial: Militancy redux
The speakers said that once again, the hard-earned peace in Swat and other parts of KP was being disturbed, but this time Pashtuns would not be deceived, nor would they allow any elements or hidden hands to install terrorists on their lands.
“Every citizen of Pakistan has the constitutional right to safety ensured by the state. Unluckily, despite a massive defence budget, the state has completely failed to ensure peace here,” Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan said in his speech.
He remarked that if the security forces and the state failed to ensure peace and stability in Swat, the people of KP would take matters into their own hands. “We, the people of KP, stand with the people of Swat and will not leave them alone,” he stressed.
Manzoor Pashteen said it was ironic that despite the presence of security forces and cantonments, the Taliban managed to enter Swat and targeted killings and fake encounters had resumed.
“The people of Swat have already witnessed bloodshed when children saw their fathers’ bodies, people of Swat were disgraced at checkposts from 2007-09; they were displaced, ruthlessly killed and their properties destroyed,” he remarked.
“It is questionable that in the blink of an eye the situation turned chaotic, the Taliban returned and started sabotaging peace,” he said, asking who had struck a deal with the banned group and allowed it to enter Swat.
Sardar Babak said the people of KP were surprised at the silence of the administration, police and courts over the mayhem in Swat and other parts of the province.
A large number of students from Jahanzeb and Khwazkhela colleges also took to the streets demanding peace in Swat.
Meanwhile, on the call of the Private Schools Management Association, all educational institutions remained closed in protest against Monday’s attack on the school van.
HARIPUR: Owners and teachers of various private educational institutions in Haripur staged a protest demonstration outside the press club. They were carrying placards and banners inscribed with demands of early arrest of the attackers and restoration of peace in Swat and other areas of KP.
Speakers at the rally condemned the failure of the provincial government to provide security to the residents of Swat. They demanded proper security for educational institutions, schoolchildren and staff to avert similar attacks.
BATTAGRAM: Students and teachers here held a rally on the main Karakoram Highway to condemn the rising incidents of militancy in Swat. The rally was held on the call of the Private Education Network Battagram chapter.
The protesters were holding placards inscribed with slogans such as “Hamain aman chahiye (we want peace”, “Aman ki bahali taraqqi ka zamin (restoration of peace is a guarantee of development)” and “No bloodshed of students”.
‘Good Taliban, bad Taliban’
Meanwhile, KP government spokesperson Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif claimed that militant groups opposed to the talks were active against the government in the province.
Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, he maintained that the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan was not behind every incident of terrorism and must not be linked to all of them. He claimed during the peace talks, it had been agreed that the TTP would claim responsibility for any act of terrorism.
Mr Saif ‘elaborated’ that the Taliban’s Gandapur group was active in Dera Ismail Khan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur group in North Waziristan, Daulat Khan group in Kurram, Wali Khurassani group in Khyber and Mohmand and Hafiz Kochwan group in Bajaur and Dir districts.
The blame for the attack on PTI MPA from Lower Dir Malik Liaquat had been pinned on the Kochwan group. These were the groups that had splintered from the TTP owing to their opposition to negotiations with the government, he alleged.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2022