The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has asked Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Engineer Shaukatullah Khan to intervene in the efforts for the recovery of Gomal Zam Dam workers kidnapped on August 15 last year.
Court also gave concerned authorities including Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) officials a final warning for the recovery of the workers before March 12.
A division bench headed by PHC Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan and comprising Justice Waqar Ahmed issued the orders on Wednesday while hearing a writ petition filed by Ikramullah Khan, father of one of the kidnapped workers.
Wapda’s security officer Wali Ayaz told the bench Chief Security Officer Colonel Mateen is in contact with the K-P governor and philanthropists who have agreed to pay the ransom. Assistant Political Agent of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) Hamidullah maintained a jirga has also been dealing with the issue.
North Waziristan Agency’s (NWA) Political Agent Siraj Ahmad Khan said the abductors keep shifting the workers to different locations, making it difficult for them to catch the accused. He maintained that residents of the area from where the workers were kidnapped should be held responsible.
Justice Khan, however, questioned how 12 people were shifted from SWA to NWA so easily despite the presence of several check posts manned by security forces. “If you are unable to manage the affairs of the agency, you should step down and find some other job,” he remarked.
The bench asked the governor to review the present postings of the political agents of NWA and SWA, terming the incident a “failure of the political administration.”
“Let this be the last chance for the recovery of the abducted persons, otherwise the court will be compelled to pass an adverse order against all concerned,” said Justice Khan and adjourned the case till March 12.
Eight men working on the Gomal Zam Dam project were kidnapped when they were returning home to DI Khan to celebrate Eidul Fitr with their families. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility and demanded Rs160 million as ransom along with the release of 17 high-profile militants in exchange.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2013.