PESHAWAR: The recent murder of a notable from Swat, Mohammad Rahman Khan, in his village by unknown gunmen has raised questions as to the identity and motive of the killers.
Villagers in Chinglalai said the 60-year old Mohammad Rahman Khan was fired at from behind as he was entering his house located in a fruit orchard in the evening. He was the brother of lawyer Mohammad Aman Khan and was related to members of the Wali of Swat’s family and the family of two late provincial ministers, Fateh Mohammad Khan and Shujaat Ali Khan, who were also brothers. He was known for his hospitality and also for refraining from interfering in others’ affairs.
Mohammad Rahman Khan retired as a school teacher about a month before his murder. The First Information Report (FIR) was filed against unknown killers as the family couldn’t figure out as to who could be the killers. It is a blind case. Such cases are difficult to work out, but investigation on proper lines could provide clues about the identity of the killers.
The family sources said the police is working on multiple lines to identify the killers, though no cue has yet been found. One line of investigation is the possible involvement of Taliban militants in the murder. The cops are also investigating if there is a personal motive for murdering him or if there is a property dispute. The police and security agencies have yet to show any progress in identifying and tracking down the culprits, but the family is cooperating and willing to wait further.
In the villages in Swat’s Matta tehsil where Chinglalai village is located, some people are heard gossiping and speculating that a local Taliban commander, Ishaq Khan, who was a stepbrother of late Mohammad Rahman Khan, could be behind the murder. However, close family members of the deceased disagree as they pointed out that despite being a commander of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ishaq Khan never did anything to harm them when the Taliban wielded power in Swat. “We know Ishaq fought the state and is a wanted man now based in Afghanistan. But he neither demanded money from us nor harassed us,” a member of the family said.
However, this possibility is not being discounted by the police and is investigating Ishaq’s possible involvement in the murder. Besides, the possibility of a personal motive or property dispute is also being actively pursued. The fact the murder took place in the native Matta area of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has put pressure on the police to work out the case.
Mohammad Rahman Khan and Ishaq Khan were the sons of late Mohammad Zaman Khan, but they had different mothers.
Some people in the area have been wondering if Mohammad Rahman’s murder is linked to the murders of Liaqat Ali Khan on November 20, 2008 in Dagai village, sited not far from Chinglalai, and his cousin Jamaluddin Khan, who was kidnapped on September 28, 2009 in Peshawar a day before he was to fly to the US to join his daughter there. He was shot dead and his body was later found abandoned in Peshawar. Jamaluddin belonged to Chinglalai village.
There is little doubt that the murder of Liaqat Ali Khan and Jamaluddin Khan was an act of revenge by Swat’s Taliban militants as they had given refuge to a Chinese engineer in the former’s house after he escaped his kidnappers. The Chinese engineer was one of the two kidnapped by the Swat Taliban from Upper Dir district where they were working on a telecommunication project and brought to mountainous Peochar area in Matta tehsil. They were in the custody of a dreaded TTP commander Ibne Amin, who belonged to Kuz Shawar village in Matta where the Chinese engineers were kept. The Pakistan government had placed a reward of Rs15 million for his capture. Subsequently, the Chinese engineers escaped during the night, but one was recaptured after he fell into a ditch while the second engineer managed to reach Liaqat Ali Khan’s house and was given refuge. In the morning Liaqat Ali Khan handed him over to the Pakistan Army soldiers deployed in the area.
The TTP commanders were furious when they found out that Liaqat Ali Khan and possibly his relatives, including Jamaluddin Khan, had given refuge and protected one of the Chinese engineers. The TTP had demanded the release of more than 100 of its members arrested by the security forces along with ransom money. It was a huge setback for the TTP when one Chinese engineer escaped from its custody as it was no longer in a position to get its demands accepted. However, the family members of Liaqat Ali Khan and Jamaluddin Khan don’t believe that the murder of Mohammad Rahman Khan is linked to the earlier assassination of the two cousins. They pointed out that only their families were blamed for giving refuge to the escaped Chinese engineer and except Liaqat Ali Khan and Jamaluddin Khan nobody else in the extended family in Chinglalai and Dagai has been harmed since then by the militants.