ABBOTABAD: Tribal elders and clerics in Kohistan have offered mediation between rival sects in Gilgit-Baltistan to ease mounting tension and restore peace in the volatile region.
The offer was made on Friday during a meeting between a jirga and the district coordination officer (DCO), Aqil Badshah, in Kohistan.
The jirga, comprising tribal elders and clerics, denounced the killing of 19 Shia passengers near Babusar Top in Kaghan valley earlier this month. The grisly massacre in Hazara division was aimed at maligning the local populace, they said.
The jirga offered their support to the district administration in tracking down the heartless murderers. They also offered mediation between Shia and Sunni communities in G-B to restore peace in the region. They added that if asked by the government, they would form a jirga of Kohistani Ulema and tribal elders and visit G-B to hold talks with scholars from both sects there.
DCO Badshah appreciated the offer and promised to discuss it with higher authorities.
He assured the jirga that his administration has put in place measures for the security of commuters on the chunk of Karakurum Highway passing through Kohistan.
At least 19 Shias, hailing from G-B, were plucked from four Gilgit-bound passenger vans on August 16 by over 30 assailants in military fatigues and shot dead.
On February 28, 18 members of the Shia community were killed in a similar fashion by gunmen in army uniform on the KKH near Shityal Harban Kohistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.
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