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Mufti Shakir agrees to leave Bara

February 28, 2006

LANDI KOTAL (Khyber Agency), Feb 27: Mufti Munir Shakir on Monday agreed to leave the Bara area in the Khyber Agency tomorrow (Tuesday). He made the announcement on his illegally-operated FM radio station. The news was also confirmed by official sources.

Earlier, the controversial cleric assured the jirga, representing all the seven tribal agencies, that he would leave Bara after it conveyed the administration’s strong warning to either immediately leave the area or face a cleanup operation.

The jirga, constituted by the NWFP governor to resolve the Bara dispute, remained locked in intense negotiations with the controversial cleric for the third consecutive day on Monday.

Five persons were killed and at least 20 others injured in Bara in two days of armed clashes between supporters of Mufti Munir Shakir and Pir Saifur Rehman. Reacting to the deterioration law and order situation, a 35-member jirga was constituted under the directives of the NWFP governor on Saturday.

The administration has also reportedly warned local residents to vacate their houses to avoid losses in case an operation was launched against Munir Shakir. The administration had also been pushing the jirga to compel the Mufti to voluntarily leave Bara as had earlier been done by his opponent, Pir Saifur Rehman. The Pir left Bara in early Fabruary after a local jirga decision.

It was also learnt that armed supporters of Mufti Munir Shakir abandoned their patrolling of the Bara roads and bazaar and the Mufti himself did not deliver any sermon on his FM radio station since Sunday night. While the Mufti’s FM station went off air, the Bara peace committee reportedly started its own FM station in Arjali Nadi on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Bara peace committee appointed Sedak Zakhakhel as its new commander. Sedak Zakhakhel escaped from Bara prison on Feb 16 last year along with two of his accomplices Naseeb Khan and Dawa Khan. The three were killed on Thursday during an armed clashed between supporters of Mufti Munir Shakir and activists of the Bara peace committee. The armed activists of the peace committee, under the command of Sedak Zakhakhel, were seen patrolling Bara roads on Monday.