PESHAWAR, April 18: The interlocutors and guarantors of Kurram peace deal will meet in Islamabad on Tuesday to chalk out a strategy for recovery of 35 passengers, who were kidnapped from Thall-Parachinar Road last month. They will discuss ways to salvage the peace agreement that collapsed only after month it was put into effect. “The stakeholders will sit together to find out solution to lingering issue of Kurram,” Malik Waris Khan Afridi, former federal minister and head of the jirga that brokered peace agreement, told Dawn on Monday.

Well informed sources said that some outsiders, who were guarantors of the peace deal, were expected to attend the crucial talks to be held at an undisclosed place in the federal capital.

Mr Afridi also confirmed participation of main guarantors in the negotiations. The elders of rival tribes would also take part in the talks. He said that recovery of the 35 kidnapped people and compensation package worth Rs1 billion for the affected families of Kurram were on the agenda of the jirga.

The jirga will discuss breach of peace deal and kidnapping on Thal-Parachinaar Road, which was reopened in February this year after a four-year closure.

Militants had attacked three vehicles heading from Peshawar to Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram, in Baggun on March 26. Three people were killed and two others got injuries while 35 passengers were kidnapped in the incident.

The whereabouts of kidnapped people is still unknown and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

According to sources a local militant group is believed to have hand in the kidnapping as it wants to force government for accepting its demands, including release of its members. However, Mr Afridi said that he didn’t know about the kidnappers and their motives.

Sajid Hussain Turi, a parliamentarian from Kurram, said that recovery of the kidnapped persons was on the top of jirga’s agenda.

He said that elders and parliamentarians had worked hard to implement the agreement, signed in October 2008 for restoration of peace in the area, in letter and spirit but a series of attacks on vehicles plying on Thall-Parachinar Road had jeopardised the accord.

He said that 12 persons were killed in an attack on a passenger coach near Mamo Khwar. “The government is guarantor of the peace deal but it has failed to ensure safety of people of Kurram. Security forces have not supported efforts of the elders,” he said.

The federal government has released Rs1 billion out of a total relief package of Rs2.2 billion for the people of violence-hit Kurram Agency.

He said that those who had violated the peace deal would be identified by both the tribes within 15 to 20 days.

Both the tribes were liable to take action against them, he added. “In this case such action would be taken but only after the recovery of the kidnapped persons,” Mr Turi said.

He alleged that Hakimullah Mehsud-led militants were responsible for kidnappings as tribal elders were receiving messages from them that they wanted to press government for release of some militants. “They also want to extort money by such kidnappings,” he alleged.



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