Citizens take to the streets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against rising terrorism

Published February 3, 2023
Protesters take out a rally in Alpuri after Friday prayers. — Photo by author
Protesters take out a rally in Alpuri after Friday prayers. — Photo by author
Protesters take out a rally in Alpuri after Friday prayers. — Photo by author
Protesters take out a rally in Alpuri after Friday prayers. — Photo by author

Citizens in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took to the streets on Friday against the recent wave of terrorism in the province.

The rallies come as Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terrorism, mostly in KP, but also in Balochistan and the Punjab town of Mianwali, which borders KP. A terror attack also reached as far as the peripheries of Islamabad.

On Jan 30, a powerful explosion ripped through a mosque in Peshawar’s Red Zone area where between 300 and 400 people — mostly police officers — had gathered for prayers. The suicide blast blew away the wall of the prayer hall and an inner roof, claiming the lives of 101 people.

January was the deadliest month since 2018, in which 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

On Friday, several rallies organised by local rights organisations were held in KP’s Shangla district. The leadership of different political parties, including the PTI, PPP, Awami National Party (ANP) and others, also addressed the rallies.

The participants, carrying white flags, demanded justice for the victims of the ghastly blast in Peshawar on January 30 as well as sustainable peace in the region.

The main rally began from Karora area and upon reaching the district headquarters of Alpuri, turned into a huge gathering as others joined.

The speakers said protecting citizens was the responsibility of the authorities concerned, lamenting that they did not seem interested and only engaged in political matters.

ANP leader Muhammad Yar Khan said the Peshawar tragedy was the “biggest security lapse” and questioned how a suicide bomber was able to enter such a sensitive area.

He said that the sole purpose for taking to the streets was to “fight against terrorism and restore complete peace in the region”.

“We will not let anyone sabotage KP’s peace,” he said. He also questioned what the establishment was doing regarding the matter and why the people were not being provided security.

Ghulamullah, a local PPP leader, said that the blood of the KP police was “not so cheap” that officials were being killed in the streets or in mosques. He highlighted that hundreds of police officers had lost their lives due to terrorism.

“If police in the province are not safe, then who is supposed to safeguard the people?”

Ghulamullah said the protesters wanted peace and protection for the people in the province and the end to “further Pakhtun genocide”.

Shangla Coal Mine Workers Rights Association’s President Abid Yar said the people were facing hardship on two fronts: increasing inflation and rising terrorism.

He also questioned why only KP was being targeted by the terrorist wave while there was relative peace in other areas.

Rallies were also held in Puran tehsil’s Aloch bazaar and Kana tehsil’s Olandar bazaar where people recorded their protest against the Peshawar blast and demanded the government maintain peace in the region.

They demanded KP Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari resign from his position if he had failed to protect the police and had put the citizens at greater risk.

The protesters said they would initiate a mass peace movement in the region if terrorism was not eliminated.

PTI takes out rallies

Meanwhile, the PTI — the former ruling party in the province — also staged an ‘Aman March’ in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Bannu, Lower Dir and Timergara.

Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser addressed a crowd in Swabi, saying that KP was at the forefront of the war against terror and would no longer permit someone else’s war on its land.

PTI leader Kamran Bangash shared footage of a crowd in Peshawar demanding peace.

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