Heartbreak city: Bloodied Peshawar turns into battleground of blame

Opposition leaders flay K-P government, Centre for not averting attack


Umer Farooq March 16, 2016
A man mourns the death of his relative at a hospital. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR:


Hours after a bomb ripped through a bus carrying government employees on Sunehri Masjid Road, politicians streamed into the corridors of Lady Reading Hospital to enquire after the health of the injured. However, instead of offering solutions, many of them seized the opportunity to spew venom against each other, the provincial and federal governments.


Opposition leaders of the provincial assembly criticised the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government. At the same time, opposition leaders in the national legislature flayed the Centre.

Hitting out

Speaking to the media, Special Assistant to the CM on Information Mushtaq Ghani said the K-P police was on the frontline of war. It was also confronted with numerous challenges, including dealing with Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons.

Ghani added the federal government was reluctant to relocate the Frontier Constabulary (FC), which the province needed to police its borders.

Pointing out K-P’s proximity, Ghani said “all masterminds [of these attacks] were in Afghanistan”. He insisted that the matter should be taken up on all forums by the Centre.

“Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif was making deals with Osama bin Laden to protect Punjab only,” he said, referring to a letter published in the Wall Street Journal which suggested Shahbaz allegedly wrote to Bin Laden in 2010 and asked him not to carry out attacks in Punjab. “But we are protecting the whole country.”

On repeat

Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman said acts of terror were being carried out in K-P since the 1970s. He insisted “foreign agencies had become experts in carrying out acts of sabotage”.

According to Farman, “Some things [such as militants targeting security forces and law-enforcement agencies] can be understood,” he said. “But targeting civilians is something that is difficult to understand.”

The Centre should realise the sacrifices being paid by the residents of K-P and accept its demands to relocate FC, said Farman, echoing Ghani’s refrains.

Policy failure

ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain pulled no punches when it came to flaying the provincial government. He said it has been writing letters but has failed to take up issues with the Council of Common Interests.



A policeman and service dog on duty at the blast site. PHOTO: EXPRESS



“The moment the [relevant authorities] sign death warrants or hang militants involved in terror activities, [militants] carry out terror attack on Pukhtun soil.”

According to Mian Iftikhar, the Afghan Taliban has refused to negotiate and the attacks are an outcome of the cancellation of peace talks.

The ANP leader added the attacks will continue to escalate and the government will need to find a solution to the problem.

Minister for LG Inayatullah Khan was briefly stopped from entering the LRH by security guards. However, he was allowed to go in following intervention by LRH officials.

The hospital that always will

An emergency was declared at three major hospitals of the city – LRH, Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC).

At least 16 people were killed according to official figures.

Initially, some blast victims, including 27 people who were injured, were shifted to Cantonment Hospital, the health facility closest to the site.

Later 24 of the injured were taken to LRH. According to LRH officials, 44 injured persons and 10 bodies were received by the facility. They have been admitted at various wards and four of them are in critical condition.

At least three bodies and 11 injured victims were at Combined Military Hospital, including some Pakistan Air Force personnel.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2016.

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