PESHAWAR: A Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sunday alleged that the security forces deployed on the Tank-Jandola road took Imran Khan into brief custody and were about to open fire on the participants of the rally had they insisted on proceeding to their last destination, Kotkai, in South Waziristan.
“The security forces stopped our motorcade at Dabara area and briefly held Imran Khan for trying to enter Waziristan. The security personnel were about to open fire on the participants of the peace march if we had insisted on proceeding towards Kotkai,” PTI provincial leader Asad Qaiser told The News on phone from Tank district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa soon after their motorcade was denied entry into South Waziristan.
He said the government had taken all measures to prevent the marchers from travelling to Waziristan and had put heavy containers on the Tank-Jandola road and dug the road at several points. “Our activists removed all the hurdles and made their way towards South Waziristan but when our convoy reached near Dabara a large number of security forces personnel stopped us from moving ahead,” Asad Qaiser recalled.
He said they held talks with the military officials who freed Imran Khan after the PTI leadership agreed to return to Tank instead of going to Kotkai. “The military officials told us that the security situation in Waziristan is not favourable for rallies so they need to go back and organise it in a comparatively safer place like Tank or D I Khan,” he said.
Imran Khan later addressed his party workers in Tank and said military authorities stopped him and members of the peace march from going to South Waziristan.
The military officials, however, rejected Asad Qaiser’s assertion. “There is no truth in these allegations as the PTI peace march was stopped near Manzai area of Frontier Region Tank where the Pakistan Army troops are not deployed. The Tank district administration was, in fact, handling the peace march and the political agent of South Waziristan was supposed to allow or deny access to the PTI rally into Waziristan,” a senior military official told The News when contacted.
Pleading anonymity, he said the Army soldiers had not come across the PTI rally right from DI Khan to Manzai in FR Tank.
Zahid Hussain Mohmand, PTI provincial information secretary, however, said he was not aware of any such development. “Frankly speaking, we did not expect the government would allow access to us beyond DI Khan or at the most Tank due to security constraints. We were worried about security situation in Tank city and in some places in FR Tank such as Manzai. But the rally had almost covered the dangerous areas and there was no risk inside South Waziristan as the area is in the control of Pakistan Army,” Zahid Hussain said, adding that he did not know why they were stopped from going to Kotkai.
However, he praised the government for making excellent security measures and providing foolproof security to the rally.
A police official in Tank said senior government officials in Peshawar had directed them to put all measures in place but stop the PTI peace march from going beyond Tank city. However, he said it was not possible for the police to handle such a large number of people.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain also said the government wanted to ensure security to the PTI rally by putting containers on the road.