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PTI denied permission for S. Waziristan rally

October 02, 2012

imran-khan-670-afp
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan gestures during a promotional function of a telecom company in Mumbai.—AFP

PESHAWAR: The administration of South Waziristan Agency has refused to allow the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf to hold a rally in Kotkai area of the conflict-hit region.

“Neither the condition in Waziristan is favourable nor the political administration has the capacity to provide security to about 100,000 participants of the rally in Kotkai,” an official said on Monday.

He said the administration had intelligence reports that terrorists might attack the rally and the authorities could not take a risk because local people were also opposing the planned demonstration in their area.

“The administration has received applications from local people against the plan to hold the rally in Kotkai,” he said.

People displaced by violence in the area have recently been repatriated from camps.

The PTI is reported to have sought permission from the administration to allow its chief Imran Khan to hold the rally in Kotkai, near the Jandola Frontier Region.

Local PTI leader Dost Muhammad met Political Agent Shahidullah at his office in Tank on Monday and discussed the matter.

Initially, the party had proposed to hold the rally in Spinkai Raghzai near Kotkai.

“The administration informed the PTI leader that it was not possible to allow political parties to hold any public meeting or rally in any part of South Waziristan,” the official said.

Imran Khan said at a press conference in Islamabad that a 30-member delegation of foreigners had arrived in the country to take part in the ‘peace rally’ in South Waziristan.

He said the Mehsud, Burki and Bhittani tribes had welcomed the plan and pledged to provide security.

Report in the media have quoted unnamed Taliban leaders as saying that they would not disrupt the rally.

But officials said that according to the tribal code it was the responsibility of local tribes and Khasadar force to provide security to outsiders in their areas and in the current situation both of them were not in a position to make adequate security arrangements for thousands of people.

Officials in the Civil Secretariat here told this correspondent that the capacity of the administration in the tribal region had drastically eroded because of the conflict and it was dependent on the army, Frontier Corps and other law-enforcement agencies for maintaining order.

“There are many stakeholders in the area and it is not possible for a weak administration to take the risk,” an official said.

He said local tribes had also lost their influence after their displacement.

He said local people had to get permission from the authorities for entering and leaving the area and a Rahdari (transit) system had been introduced for entry.

“It appears very difficult to issue permits to 100,000 participants of the rally,” the official said.

He said there was still no stability in the areas which had been cleared of militants and, therefore, the government would not take the risk of putting peace in the region at stake.