Total Pageviews

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dialogue with arms:ANP leaders under attack

Dialogue with arms:ANP leaders under attack
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
By Delawar Jan - News On Sunday
The Awami National Party, which staunchly advocated a negotiated settlement to the growing militancy in the scenic Swat valley before and after the Feb 18 elections, is now under attack from the irreconcilable militants loyal to Maulana Fazlullah.
The nationalist party, that secured sweeping victory in Swat district due to its slogan of peace, declared the Taliban militants their own 'brothers' and offered an olive branch to them soon after coming into power in the NWFP.
Subsequently, a 16-point peace agreement despite immense pressure from the US was signed on May 21 2008, at a time when the insurgents were on a death and destruction spree in the valley by carrying out deadly suicide attacks and bomb blasts on security forces and even in public places. However, the peace deal could not remain intact, as less than one month into the peace deal the militants continued their attacks on the girls' schools.

The situation grew worse when the security forces and militants clashed in Sambat Cham area of the militant-teemed Matta tehsil, resulting in the death of two Taliban commanders, Shahzad and Khan Agha and a security forces person. With this, the Taliban started a series of militant activities, but both sides kept expressing their 'resolve' to keep the accord 'intact.' However, the militants, angry at the alleged failure of the government to release their members, abducted two cops and threatened to pick up more to bargain the release of Taliban prisoners.

After Maulana Fazlullah's press conference on July 27, in which he claimed responsibility for attacks on the girls' schools and threatened of suicide attacks if the government took action, the militants ambushed three Inter-Services Intelligence officials the next day. Moreover, they attacked the security forces check-post in Deolai area of Kabal and picked up 33 cops and Frontier Corps personnel. After these aggressive attacks, the security forces with a nod from the provincial government re-launched a full-scale military operation against the rebels on July 30.

However, the militants held the ANP and members of the NWFP assembly responsible for the operation and turned their guns towards them. In early August, they threatened to take action against all ministers and members National and provincial assemblies, but their threat proved more lethal than it seemed as the unrepentant militants didn't even spare the families of the MPs and ANP workers. They attacked the house of former federal minister and Awami National Party's senior leader, Afzal Khan Lala, with rockets in Drushkhela area on August 12 but he and his family members remained unharmed. They again surrounded his house on Wednesday night but his guards made them flee by opening fire on them.

The militants then killed a local leader, Musa Khan, who was on his way back home after Isha prayers. They ambushed another leader and former union council nazim, Muhammad Ameen, the same night when he was returning from Mingora after taking the injured body of Musa Khan to the hospital.

The militants, who carried out another suicide attack towards the end of August, stormed the family residence of Awami National Party member NWFP Assembly, Waqar Ahmad Khan, in Shahdherai and killed his brother Iqbal Ahmad Khan along with his two sons and seven guards. The MPA was not at home at the time of attack when around 150 heavily armed Taliban militants first gunned down all the seven guards and then entered the house forcing the family members to queue up. They separated women from the other inmates and fired a volley of bullets at the male members, before blowing up the house. The security situation was so precarious that the MPA could not attend the funeral rites of his loved ones and received condolences at the fortified MPA hostel in Peshawar.

The series of target-killings did not stop; the combatants killed another local leader of the party, Gul Bacha, the next day. All the elected representatives from the volatile district have shifted their immediate families to Peshawar and have stopped going to the valley. This was once the case with PML-Q's leaders and workers. The militants killed the member of Swat's royal family and the party's candidate for PF-81, Miangul Asfandyar Amirzeb, in a bomb blast along with a local nazim. Another leader of the party, Shujaat Ali Khan, was also attacked along with his family members, injuring several people. They also burnt down the house of Jamal Nasir, his son and the incumbent district nazim of Swat.

In a meeting of all MPAs from the valley, the military was asked to withdraw if they could not effectively crush the militants. The MPAs were of the opinion that the security forces have failed to protect people from the Taliban; instead they have increased the danger to people's lives.

The militancy-weary people of Swat are under the impression that the forces do not come to the help of those being attacked by the Taliban and are not serious in their elimination. It is, however, encouraging that the NWFP government led by ANP, whose central and provincial leaders have received threats, has adopted a principled stand of crushing the militants if they don't lay down their arms.


No comments: