ISLAMABAD: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa MPA from Hangu, Ateequr Rehman says the Tall-Parachinar Road, which is the main route linking the province to Parachinar, the Kurram Agency’s Headquarters, has been virtually seized by Taliban.
“In addition to the activities of these terrorist elements calling themselves Taliban and ‘local Taliban’ under the command of one warlord or the other, there are serious clashes going on between two religious sects, fighting with each other for decades for the control of the area and especially this strategic Tall-Parachinar Road,” Ateequr Rehman said.
“Because of these acts of terrorism by Taliban and the warlords, traders and farmers have, according to safe estimates, suffered losses amounting to at least Rs70 billion so far,” the MPA said.
Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Athar Abbas told The News that in the past the Tall-Parachinar road was completely blocked but because of the operations launched by the Pakistan Army and other law enforcement agencies it has now become possible to travel on this road under the protection of security forces.
“Now convoys, including public transport, private vehicles and the transport vehicles can move up and down this road under the protection of the security forces, which has resolved a major issue to some extent. The local political authorities are also putting in their share to secure this road as they are engaging the two sectarian groups to reach an agreement for peaceful co-existence in the tribal agency. Once that task is accomplished, we hope complete peace will return to Kurram Agency,” the DG ISPR said.
But MPA Ateequr Rehman said because of lawlessness, the Taliban and sectarian clashes all the cellular phone companies have been forced to shut down their operations in Kurram Agency and there is no source of communication except the PTCL, which also is ineffective because the exchanges crash too frequently thanks to prolonged power breakdowns.
“Interestingly, while the Pakistani cellular phone companies have been unable to continue their operations in Kurram Agency, the cellular service from Afghanistan is operative in Kurram tribal region and most of the people are using the Afghan cellular phone network connections,” the MPA from Hangu said.
He said out of 1.6 to 2 million people in Kurram Agency many have migrated to safer areas outside the agency because of precarious law and order situation.
He said that the security forces had worked hard in the past to clear Kurram Agency from these terrorist elements and also worked to bring the sects together in an attempt to bring about peace. However, he added, these efforts by the law enforcement and security agencies, fail in the long run. The government started an air service from Peshawar to Parachinar but that was never enough. As a result, people started using the ancient route of reaching Khyber Agency through Afghanistan, but that too is not safe because of the Taliban influence in those areas inside Afghanistan. “All these realities have made the living and life of people in Kurram Agency miserable,” the lawmaker said.