YAKA GHUND (Mohmand Agency), Jan 23: Paramilitary and Khasadar troops on Monday barred opposition leaders and journalists from visiting the Bajaur Agency village where three houses were hit by US missiles on Jan 13 and 18 people were killed.
The politicians leading a procession were trying to go to Damadola to express solidarity with people of the village.
The procession, led by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad, PPP leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim, PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, was stopped at the Yaka Ghund checkpost.
Heavy vehicles were parked on the main road at the Yaka Ghund gate to stop the procession at the Mohmand Agency entry point.
Senior officials of the agency administration and the Frontier Corps told the politicians that their entry into the tribal areas had been banned. “The federal government has issued directives not to allow politicians to enter the area,” a senior official told Dawn.
Hundreds of supporters of the JUI-F, JI, PPP, PML-N, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and tribesmen accompanying the politicians protested against the ban. They shouted slogans against the United States and President Musharraf. The marchers later dispersed peacefully.
Addressing the protesters, Maulana Fazl said the government should recall its ambassador from Washington unless the US apologized and paid compensation.
“America has attacked a sovereign country and killed innocent people. Therefore, the government should refer the matter to the UN Security Council,” he said.
Condemning the military operation in the North and South Waziristan agencies, Maulana Fazl said the government should pull out troops from the tribal areas. “Our army had killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in East Pakistan and has now launched an operation in tribal areas,” he said.
He said that hundreds of families had moved out of Waziristan owing to shellings.
ARD chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim condemned the Damadola incident and urged people to unite against foreign aggression.
He said the government should strongly protest to the US government against the missile attack on Bajaur Agency. Otherwise, he added, President Musharraf should resign.
He also said that foreign troops should leave the country.
MMA president and JI chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad alleged that the US government had taken President Musharraf into confidence before the attack.
He said the government and political authorities in Bajaur Agency were issuing conflicting reports about deaths to justify the US air attack.
He contradicted political authorities’ statement that foreign militants had taken away bodies after the missile attack.
PML-N parliamentary leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that politicians were visiting Damadola to express solidarity with the bereaved families, but the government barred them from entering the tribal areas.
He accused Gen Musharraf of protecting US and Jewish interests.
He charged that the government had failed to protect the country from foreign aggression and said the government should resign after the US attack.
PTI chief Imran Khan said that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz should take up the matter in his meeting with President George W. Bush.
He said that President Musharraf could not gather courage to ask the US government to tender apology for violating Pakistan’s air space and bombing women and children.