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Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hangu kidnapping of Shia School Students by Taliban

Hangu kidnapping
Sunday, March 01, 2009
In what appears to be another act of sectarian violence in the Hangu area, which has seen over a year of conflict between tribes divided along the lines of sect, a van driver was killed and seven students abducted by armed men who ambushed the vehicle taking the pupils to their college. The incident has triggered angry public protests. It also demonstrates the failure to restore any kind of real order in the area. While tribal intervention last year brought a halt to conflict, the fact is that people across Orakzai Agency live in fear. One reason for this is the failure to back ceasefires with longer-term measures that can ensure continuing calm. These should include a ban, under relevant laws that exist on our statute books, on the incitement of hatred. In Hangu and elsewhere, the dissemination of literature promoting hatred was said to be commonplace. CDs, videos and other material also remained widely available. (The News)

The deliberate attempt to build tension is fanned by the wide circulation of such material. The use of the media by extremists to build support for their cause has been extensive and has proved very effective. An effort must begin to counter it, in places like Hangu, Parachinar and Dera Ismail Khan which have a long history of violence. Scores have died in these places as a result of clashes, targeted killings and terrorist attacks. Only when there is an end to such mayhem can we hope to stop incidents such as the one that took place in Hangu and to restore the capability of people to live in peace with those who hold views different to their own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Subject: Kidnapping of Shia Students in Hangu by Taliban

The recent incident of kidnapping of four shia students and brutal killing of shia driver who was driving their van by the elements supported by Taliban near Hangu, is another grim reminder of the continuous failure of local administration and law enforcing agencies in protecting innocent citizens from the clutches of terrorists and criminals. The lofty motive of Taliban Tehreek seems to be lost some where in confusion and chaos and it seems that a bunch of criminals and thugs have taken the control of movement in Pakistan and are using its name in order to defame Islam. Even the Ameer of Taliban, Mulla Umar in his recent statement has distanced himself with the terrorist activities committed in the name of Taliban in tribal areas and N.W.F.P.
Though these so-called Taliban have converted, most of the parts of N.W.F.P and tribal areas into virtual hell, but the situation is worse in areas where there is a sizeable shia population such as Kurram Agency, Hangu, Orakzai Agency, and D.I.Khan. In these areas their brutality and savagery has no bounds, as they consider shias a perfectly legitimate target and want to make life miserable for them, so that they migrate from these areas or abandon their beliefs and join them.
It is indeed very surprising that why our Government and Army despite of their tough statements and tall claims has failed to bring any semblance of peace and order in these areas, and protect vulnerable groups like Shias in these areas. For centuries the people of both sects are having a peaceful co-existence in these areas like Hangu and Kurram Agency, but now due to aggressive strategy of Taliban, a wedge has been created between them. Just in Muharram, a ferocious war has been fought between Talibans and Shias on the issue of a Muharram mourning procession, which has been taken out from the same area for many years with out any problem. It has been reliably learnt that in Hangu and Orakzai Agency, the so called Taliban has enforced a social boycott of shais and the sunnis of Bangash tribes are per force compelled to sever all kinds of contacts with their shia relatives under the pain of heavy penalty and punishment. The Government has lost the entire writ, as well as will to govern in these areas and is virtually confined in offices.
In the present incident, the students being day scholars and residents of Hangu were proceeding to their school namely Al-Asr Public School, which is an excellent academic institution, and has been imparting education to backward tribal area of Kacchai, Orakzai Agency since the last 15 years. The students were traveling in Suzuki Van and were negotiating a 3 mile long stretch, which is controlled area by Taliban, when the incident took place. At the time of kidnapping, the so called Taliban with their hall mark brutality shot the driver dead, who tried to sped away the vehicle and kidnapped the students on gun point. One can gauge the extent of control of Taliban on the area that without being fear of caught, they along with kidnapped students walked all the way from the populated area to their secret hide out. The Administration and Army has failed to take any meaningful action after this incident and has yet to demonstrate their resolve and will to recover these students. The Kurram agency is also very tense, as the twelve shias belonging to Turi tribe kidnapped last week are still untraced and no headway has been made by the Government to recover them. The lives of students as well as Turi tribesman are in grave danger, and as the past experience indicates that there is little hope that their lives would be spared by the Taliban. The sentiments of affected community are running very high in these areas and if God forbids, any unto ward incident happen to these kidnapped person, it might engulf the whole region in fire, with the resultant loss of life and property. May I appeal Government, media, Pakistan Army, and the people who have connections to fulfill their responsibilities and ensure safe recovery of kidnapped shia students.

Abu Jafer, Karachi

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