TTP threatens to kill more ANP leaders
* Baitullah aide claims responsibility for attack on ANP lawmaker
PESHAWAR: A close aide of Baitullah Mehsud and senior commander of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Awami National Party (ANP) MPA Alam Zeb Khan in Peshawar.
“We carried out this attack and will continue such attacks on ANP leaders in future,” Hakeemullah Mehsud, who heads the TTP in Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber tribal regions, said in telephone calls to media offices in Peshawar.
Alam Zeb Khan died of excessive injuries when a powerful bomb went off near his car in Peshawar on Wednesday. He became the first target of the Taliban since the Pukhtoon nationalist party took power last year. The ANP became a major target of the outlawed TTP after its peace deal with Maulana Fazlullah in Swat collapsed and a military operation began to target the Taliban.
Asfandyar Wali Khan, central ANP president, survived a suicide attack on Eid Day at his Wali Bagh residence last year, while relatives of several ANP MPAs from Swat have also been targeted.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti announced Rs 5 million for the grieved family and recommended the federal government’s higher gallantry award for the deceased MPA. The CM’s Gallantry Medal, along with Rs 500,000 in cash, was also announced for the late MPA’s family.
The chief minister assured the family members that the ANP government would bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. (Daily Times)
‘No’ to bargain with Taliban proves costly
* ANP on target since its election campaign, anti-terrorist stance
By Daud Khattak
PESHAWAR: The assassination of Alam Zeb Khan, the Awami National Party’s (ANP) member of the NWFP Assembly (MPA), was the latest in series of attacks against workers and leaders of the nationalist party since its coming into power in the province as a result of the February 2008 general elections.
Elected from the PF-1 constituency of Peshawar district, Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a terrorist strike near his house at Dilazak Road on Wednesday.
Though no claim of responsibility from any group came hitherto, fingers are being pointed towards militants fighting the security forces in tribal and settled areas of the country. The ANP has been the target of Taliban attacks since its election campaign last year and the anti-terrorist stance adopted by its leadership after coming into power in the province.
Before the tragic end to Alam Zeb Khan’s life, many of the party’s elected members as well as office-bearers have offered sacrifices of their near and dear ones besides suffering serious material losses for the party’s uncompromising stance to put an end to terrorism and extremism and purge the Pakhtun land of those out to destroy its peace.
According to the figures available with the party’s central secretariat, over 100 activists, office-bearers and leaders of ANP have so far been killed by militants in Swat while others were forced to quit the valley or resign from the party.
The brutal murder of elder brother of the party’s MPA Waqar Ahmed Khan and his two young nephews along with their five servants in Shadherai area of Swat was the first revenge of the local Taliban, who had threatened the nationalist party members to resign or face the music. It was followed by the killing of younger brother of NWFP Minister for Environment Wajid Ali in Mingora. The deceased, who was serving as inspector in police department, was shot dead by armed men and his killing was instantly claimed by the Taliban in Swat.
Before the killing of Wajid Ali’s brother, ANP senior leader and former federal minister Afzal Khan, known as Khan Lala, survived two attempts on his life in his native town of Drushkhela in Swat.
Adamant that he would not flee the valley under pressure from Taliban, Khan Lala is still present in his hometown along with his loyalists braving everyday threats and attacks from the militants. Besides suffering serious injuries in one such attack, the octogenarian Afzal Khan also suffered material losses at the hands of Taliban as several of his markets were either bombed or closed by the militants.
Like Khan Lala, both ANP’s central and provincial presidents have escaped separate attempts on their lives by the militants.
The first attack was a bomb blast at a public meeting organised in connection with the election drive of ANP candidate Masoom Shah in Charsadda on February 11, 2008. The party’s provincial president Afrasiab Khattak, who narrowly escaped, was to address the meeting minutes after the explosion. The second was a suicide attack to target the party’s central president Asfandyar Wali Khan at his house on October 2, 2008. Asfandyar escaped while his bodyguard Yar Zameen, a police constable and an ANP activist Fazal Ghani fell prey to the callous act.
The party’s parliamentary leader in NWFP Assembly and Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour also survived a bid on his life when he was about to leave the Qayyum Sports Complex after the concluding ceremony of three-day inter-provincial games on November 11, 2008. Majority of names in the wanted list recently released by the Swat Taliban, are those of the ANP leaders, its office-bearers, activists or well-wishers. According to the NWFP government spokesman and provincial minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, their party would remain steadfast in the fight against terrorists. “We’ll die for a sacred cause, but will not leave the province at the mercy of extremists and terrorists,” said Mian Iftikhar in a chat with Daily Times.