WANA: Thousands of people took to the streets in South Waziristan on Friday against the recent wave of terrorism in the region.

The protesters called upon the government to immediately take steps and restore peace in the region. The tribesmen held the protest against a surge in terrorist activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in general and Waziristan in particular.

People from all walks of life, including political workers, social activists, traders and youth, attended the peace march led by local leaders of different political parties.

The protesters holding white flags and placards chanted slogans in favour of peace and against terrorism in the volatile region, particularly tribal districts.

Leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Awami National Party (ANP) addressed the rally, saying it was the responsibility of the government to ensure safety and security in the region. They asserted that terrorism was not acceptable at any cost.

The speakers noted that there was an increase in attacks on security personnel in Wana, while kidnapping for ransom had increased and even common people were being kidnapped for extortion.

They claimed that some police stations had been abandoned as a result of which militants were freely moving in the area.

Locals complained that the government had failed to control the situation and said protests would continue until a police force was set up to eliminate both the “good and the bad Taliban”.

“No one is safe in the area as from political leaders to traders, tribal leaders and contractors were all unsafe,” ANP leader Ayaz Wazir, who attended the protest, told Dawn, adding that thousands of people had taken to the streets and their only demand was restoration of peace in the region. “We won’t sit quietly until the government guarantees peace,” he added.

Mr Wazir said people from different areas, including Angoor Adda, a region near the border with Afghanistan, had attended the peace march, adding: “all these protesters are demanding peace and that is the responsibility of the government.”

PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen stated that a well-planned conspiracy was behind all this [the volatile law and order situation].

MNA from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar tweeted that people of Wana had refused to be “used as cannon fodder and scapegoats in the new great game being imposed on the region”.

“More power to the people of Wana, South Waziristan for their resistance against terrorism,” he added.

Pakistan has seen a rise in terrorist attacks since the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan announced resuming attacks a few weeks ago. The terrorist strikes are believed to have been planned and directed by the TTP leaders based in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, security forces killed 11 militants, including a key TTP commander, in a raid in South Waziristan. Two separate attacks targeting police in Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan left five officials injured.

On Dec 21, dozens of armed militants had stormed a police station in Wana and escaped after looting arms and ammunition. Local officials informed that the militants had attacked the police station at around 1am with rocket launchers and heavy weapons and forced their way into the police station.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2023

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