PESHAWAR: The increasing incidents of terrorism in southern and central towns of the province as well as surge in attacks in Malakand division have triggered concerns among the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Having suffered due to militancy in the past, a number of political leaders as well as the general public from Malakand have raised voice over the recent attacks.
In the last couple of days, eight people were martyred in bomb attack on the convoy of an elder Idrees Khan from Swat, seven employees of a cellphone company were kidnapped, a 75-year-old elder fall victim to target killing and many, including lawmakers, received calls for extortion.
Last month, thousands of people came out of their homes and protested in Swat and Lower Dir after the attack on MPA Liaqat Ali and kidnapping of police and security personnel, including two officers.
The protestors asked the government, army and police to ensure peace in Malakand division and the rest of the KP by taking instant, solid and durable measures.
The police in many areas in Malakand division have issued advisories to the local elders and other people to restrict movement and take measures for security.
An official said the police and government along with other law-enforcement agencies have taken a number of measures to ensure peace in Malakand and the rest of the KP.
“New posts have been set up on hilltops and at areas where needed while others were strengthened with manpower, ammunition and equipment. Police along with other law-enforcement agencies are alert and committed to ensuring peace,” said an official.
Many areas in the Malakand division have remained under the control of militants for some time over a decade ago.
Hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their houses and shifted to other districts when military operation Rah-e-Haq was launched in 2007 and another Operation Rah-e-Rast was conducted in 2009 to restore peace in Malakand.
The reports of resurfacing of armed groups last month and now the recent attacks have worried the people across the province, especially Malakand and southern KP.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police after the last month’s incidents made it clear that the situation was under the control of the civilian administration and LEAs and no one would be allowed to regroup and pose any threat to the public.
But after the recent incidents, the general public and a number of political leaders from all the parties across the country have expressed concern over the situation in Swat as well as other towns in Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Mardan and Peshawar divisions.
The District Bar Association Swat last Wednesday in an emergency meeting asked for instant, effective and durable measures for peace. The lawyers’ body condemned the murder of eight persons in Bara Bandai in Kabal and terror incidents in Matta tehsil, the hometown of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, and other towns of Swat.
Many people took to the street after bomb attack on a local elder Idrees Khan the other day, for the second time in a few weeks to denounce terrorism. Carrying placards and banners, the protesters, including traders, lawyers and members of civil society gathered at Nishat Chowk and demanded durable peace in the district. The participants made clear that any past-like situation will not be tolerated.
Some security experts said there were hopes that since Afghanistan now has some semblance of self-rule, the militancy issue in Pakistan will also be resolved. However, contrary to the expectations, some of these elements reportedly came back to their previous stronghold, causing a sense of insecurity among the population.
This further worsened the situation, considering the fact that the elements coming back were involved in several incidents in the past. Soon after reports of their return, attacks on elders and extortion calls to people who were instrumental in pushing them out during the past years have increased.
Before Malakand, situation in most of the southern districts was worsening for the last many months but no solid measures were taken to stop target-killing and other terrorist incidents.
The lawlessness spilled over to Peshawar and Khyber district as well as in a few towns of Mardan division where target killing and attacks on police have increased in the recent months. The target was mostly police and its establishments.
Attacks on police in KP had started to increase over the late last year as the force proved to be the first victims when things took an ugly turn. Around 80 cops were martyred in target killings and other attacks during eight and a half months, which is even more than the figures of any entire year since 2016.
As per the official figures of the Central Police Office, 36 policemen were martyred in the entire year in 2017, 30 in 2018, 38 in 2019, 28 in 2020 and 59 in 2021.
Along with the target killing by the armed attackers, a number of police stations, posts and vans have been attacked with grenades in the last several months.
The offices of Superintendent of Police Saddar in Peshawar, as well as DSP Badaber, have also come under grenade attacks in recent months.
Hand-grenade attacks on houses and other places were also reported from many parts of the KP in the last many months, mostly by the extortionists. The issue has reached an alarming level as there are reports of calls for extortion to a large number of well-off people in KP.
Many have asked the federal and provincial governments, police, army and other law-enforcement agencies to take concrete and durable measures without any ifs and buts to restore peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country.
The general public also asked the government to strengthen the Counter-Terrorism Department, the Special Branch as well as the Intelligence Bureau and military intelligence agencies for effective intelligence mechanism all over KP.
Besides, the police and LEAs need to be strengthened by providing them with the latest heavy weapons, technology, bullet-proof vehicles and jackets, night vision goggles, manpower and other requirements to effectively go after the elements disturbing the law and order.