PESHAWAR: Shahzad Khan, a Shaluber tribesman from Khyber Agency, was trained to fight and kill as a paramilitary trooper, but he left Frontier Corps feeling threatened by throat slitting squad of Lashkar-i-Islam (LI).
His woes caused by the ruthless hooligans of militant leader Mangal Bagh, head of LI, did not end there. On Saturday he had to leave his ancestral Qazi Abad, a village in Bara sub-division, for his family’s safety because of a raging armed conflict with government troops taking on LI in Shaluber area.
“I left the job because they warned of slitting my throat if I continued with FC,” said Mr Khan with a salt-and-pepper beard, waiting for his turn to register as an internally displaced person at a camp at Jalozai, near here.
His wife and four children have reconciled with the latest twist in their lives as they all are set to start leading a peaceful life in a Jalozai camp’s tent.
Life in Qazi Abad, he said, had become too dangerous. A mortar shell landed close to his house few days ago, he added.
Earlier, six members of a family in his neighbourhood died after a mortar shell hit a house late at a night. “There were 22 pieces of human bodies that were recovered from the scene of destruction,” said Mr Khan.
Shaluber tribe’s villages in the Bara plains, according to the newly displaced tribal people, are undergoing a heightened FC action against LI militants, dislodging them from the strategic positions they had gotten hold of in the area.
Several Shaluber tribesmen, waiting in lines for their turn to register at the Jalozai camp, told Dawn that their area saw a flurry of activities during the past three, four days, with military trucks bringing in FC reinforcements.
The troops, they said, had consolidated their positions in the Shaluber area, established new checkposts in open spaces and developed fortifications in vacant houses of tribesmen, who left for personal safety, avoiding an intensified conflict.
“Houses have been filled in with militia taking positions at several places near Bara,” said a college student, requesting not to mention his name fearing for safety.
Fear reigns high among the newly displaced tribesmen. They have many stories to tell about their personal miseries at the hands of LI, but they hold back their tongues. They suspect that their printed words would return to haunt them, reaching to Mangal Bagh through newspapers.
“Though the government has consolidated its position in the area during the past few days, LI militants keep on moving on motorbikes. We were in extreme dangerous situation,” said the student.
He was seconded by another Shaluber tribesman, saying that the government controlled the area, but LI militants continued to act with impunity. “They can do whatever they want to, Tanzeem (LI men) kidnapped a local tribesman to get revenge recently,” said the bearded young man.
He refused to share his name, saying “we can’t dare to speak against them even here (away from Bara).”
Nawab Khan, resident of a Bara village, escaped a certain death last week when a mortar shell landed in the courtyard of his house. He and his family were in a room when the shell exploded right next to it, he said.
“The situation has become so charged that you can expect a shell hitting you anytime,” said Mr Khan.
One person was killed and four others were injured after a mortar shell hit their house few days ago in his village, he added.
The college student said that the villagers were facing problems not only because of militants. FC, too, was equally responsible, he alleged. The paramilitary force recently conducted an intense search operation in Qamberabad, taking away a large number of tribesmen for questioning, including two of his uncles, he added.
All of the men, he said, were taken to a nearby military fort and were set free after the interrogation.