ABBOTTABAD: Chief Minister of Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa, Ameer Haider Hoti, on Saturday reached out to the disgruntled people of Hazara division, saying that those responsible for the April 12 killings in Abbottabad will be taken to task.
He was speaking at a ceremony organised to distribute compensation cheques among the heirs of those killed in the Abbottabad rioting. It was his first visit to the region after the NWFP was renamed Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa through a constitutional amendment. Some districts in Hazara division are opposed to the new name, calling for a separate Hazara province. At least eight people were killed when supporters of Hazara province clashed with police on April 12 in Abbottabad city.
Chief Minister Hoti had to face embarrassment when Ziaur Rahman, who lost his brother in the April 12 rioting, refused to collect cheque saying, “I cannot accept compensation from a chief minister who had ordered the killing of innocent Hazarewals.”
Attendees at the ceremony included Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour, Rahim Dad Khan, Syed Zahir Ali Shah, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Shuja Salim Khan and other senior officials. But the elected representatives from Hazara were conspicuous by their absence.
Appearing before journalists after the ceremony, the chief minister said he was visiting Hazara to convey a message of peace. He regretted the April 12 violence in Abbottabad and held out an assurance that the ANP-led provincial government would make every possible effort to address the grievances of Hazarewals.
“For this purpose, I’m ready to meet Haider Zaman (the man spearheading the movement for a separate Hazara province) and other leaders of the Sooba Hazara Tehrik (Movement for Hazara Province),” Hoti added.
He said his government would assign experienced officers to investigate the April 12 rioting and fix responsibility. The report of a judicial commission appointed by the government released earlier this month concluded that the Abbottabad incidents were a result of “cross-firing between police and protesters.” The report was immediately rejected by Hazara movement leaders as “biased.”
Hoti said that the demand for a separate Hazara province was a basic right of Hazarewals. However, he advised them to adopt a constitutional way to press for their demand instead of taking to the streets.
Earlier the chief minister laid the foundation stone for the Abbottabad Dental College which will be built in three years at a cost of Rs311 million. On the occasion of the chief minister’s visit, dozens of supporters of the Hazara movement staged a protest on the Karakoram Highway. They were led by their leaders Haider Zaman and Amanullah Khan Jadoon.
They blocked the strategic highway for more than three hours by burning tyres and erecting barricades. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the road. Protesters ended the blockade after the chief minister left Abbottabad.
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