LOWER DIR: The Pak-Afghan border at the Maidan tehsil in the Lower Dir district remained calm and peaceful on Sunday after clashes between security forces and intruding militants from Afghanistan for two days.

Residents and official sources told Dawn that there was no shelling and firing from any part of Maidan. Upper areas of Maidan had been tense for the last two days due to exchange of fire between FC soldiers and militants.

According to local residents, FC soldiers returned to their Lal Qila base on Sunday and reports from the area suggested the militants had either taken shelter somewhere in the area or they have retreated to Afghanistan.

There were reports of presence of militants in the Suripao, Lamotai Top and Safarai forest areas of Maidan. On getting information, soldiers of Frontier Corps 185 and 181 Wings were dispatched to the area to block militants’ movement.

Grand jirga, peace walk to be held today

The militants allegedly attacked the troops, who returned fire and this exchange of fire continued for the whole day, residents said.

There were also reports of casualties on both sides, but such reports were not confirmed either by the district administration or the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) so far.

Meanwhile, the Dir Qaumi Pasoon (DQP), a citizen body working for peace and development in the area, on Sunday announced it would hold a peace walk at Timergara on Monday. It has also convened a grand jirga of elders, local politicians and intellectuals on Monday to devise the future line of action to maintain law and order in the district.

DQP chief Malik Jehan Alam told Dawn that efforts would be made to keep the region safe and peaceful. He said the local residents could no more tolerate militancy and mass displacement of people in the area.

The DQP chief said that local politicians, elders, lawyers and youth had been engaged to play active role in maintaining durable peace in the district.

He said that under a planned conspiracy, efforts are being made to trigger a war again in the Pukhtun belt.

The Maidan tehsil of the Lower Dir was once the stronghold of outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in 2008-09 and during that period it torched hundreds of schools.

The Pakistan army then launched a military operation in 2009 which continued for years and the area was cleared of the militants. A majority of the militants, including their key figures, took refuge in Kunar and Asadabad areas of Afghanistan.

The militants continued to intrude into Pak-Afghan border and attack security check posts in border areas of Pakistan.

Dozens of soldiers and local politicians were killed in the militants’ attack in Maidan area in the past.

The Maidan tehsil, the hometown of Tahreek Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad, has seen many ups and downs. It was Maulana Sufi Muhammad who led thousands of youths to Afghanistan to fight the US and Nato forces.

Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who died on July 11, 2019, in a Peshawar jail, had spearheaded a violent movement for enforcement of Sharia in Malakand division and Hazara Kohistan.

He was the father-in-law of former TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah of Swat, who was killed in a US drone attack in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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