PARACHINAR: Hundreds of protesters in Parachinar on Friday ended their eight-day long sit-in after Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa assured them of better security, according to protest leaders and the military.
The protesters had been staging a peaceful sit-in following twin blasts at a market last Friday that left over 70 dead, the latest in a series of bloody attacks that have targeted hundreds in the Kurram tribal area.
Since then, demonstrators flocked to Shaheed Park, the venue of the sit-in, with residents arriving to take part in the protest from across the Kurram tribal district.
The standoff came to an end after a visit by the army chief concluded with protest organisers announcing that their demands had been met.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced that every family of the Parachinar victims will receive one million rupees in compensation but the protesters rejected the offer, saying victims of attacks in other places got more.
“We are immediately ending protests in all parts of Pakistan,” leaders of the Dharna committee including Allama Muzammil Hussain, Shabbir Sajidi, and Saqib Bangash, told reporters.
Hussain said most of their demands were accepted.
They said a committee that included General Hassan and Brig Malik Ameer besides some members of the Dharna committee had been constituted which will oversee the implementation of demands.
In a lengthy statement, the ISPR said Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Parachinar on Friday. “The COAS [has been] briefed in details about [the] security situation and recent terrorist incidents. [The] COAS interacted with local tribal elders and representatives of the sit-in.”
The army chief expressed his grief over the loss of precious lives in the terrorist attack in Parachinar last Friday and prayed for the departed souls, the ISPR said.
The army chief said he was out of the country and when he returned, bad weather delayed his attempt to visit Parachinar.
Gen Qamar said, “We as a nation have given unprecedented sacrifices in the war against terrorism and we shall succeed. Our enemies shall never succeed in lowering our resolve or dividing us.”
Appreciating the FC and local administration for their efforts, Gen Bajwa acknowledged their contributions.
So far, 126 soldiers of the FC K-P alone have sacrificed their lives and 387 were injured while performing their duties in Kurram Agency.
“The FC K-P is a professional force inclusive of all tribes and sects performing their duties selflessly,” the army chief remarked.
Speaking on the occasion, tribal elders expressed their complete confidence in Pakistan Army and its leadership. “We stand with our security forces and our blood is for our motherland. We all are Pakistanis and Muslim,” the elders remarked.
Gen Qamar vowed that Pakistan Army would continue its efforts to restore normalcy in the country, adding that the threat continued to reside across the border in Afghanistan with the Islamic State gaining strength there.
“We need to remain united, steadfast, prepared and vigilant against this threat which has an agenda of exploiting the sectarian fault-line,” he noted.
“Our security forces are symbol of national integration so is our security apparatus; we are one nation. Also, a greater Pakistan-Afghanistan border coordination and security cooperation is required in this regard.”
Later, the army chief also met the representatives of the sit-in and listened to their concerns.
“While administrative concerns will be pursued with the executive body, suggestions regarding security mechanism are being incorporated forthwith. We can only be effective when locals are part of security and vigilance,” the army chief said.
The COAS announced the following steps:
- While there are clear evidence of hostile foreign hands in recent incidents, local facilitators and abettors have been apprehended who will be tried in military courts.
- Additional army troops have been moved in Parachinar to enhance its security while Frontier Constabulary (FC) troops are being beefed up on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to seal it effectively. Toori Razakars are also being dovetailed on check-posts.
- A safe city project for Parachinar by installing CCTV cameras in line with the ones in Lahore and Islamabad will be undertaken.
- The fencing of border is already in progress. More sensitive areas of Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are being fenced in Phase 1 while the complete Pakistan-Afghanistan border including the portion falling in Balochistan will be fenced in Phase 2.
- Firing by FC troops while handling the mob situation post-blast is being inquired and those responsible shall not be spared. The FC commandant has already been changed. Notwithstanding the irreparable loss, four martyrs and those injured in firing have been compensated by the FC.
- The Army Public School Parachinar is named after Maj Gulfam Shaheed and it will be upgraded to a Cadet College in due course.
- A trauma centre will be established in Parachinar by the army while the area’s civil hospital will be upgraded for better medical care by the civil administration.
- The government has now announced compensation for Parachinar victims at par with other such victims elsewhere in the country. All Pakistanis are equal.
- The army fully supports mainstreaming of Fata – which is being pursued – and its early implementation is essential for enduring peace and stability.
Commander Peshawar Corps Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmed Butt and IGFC Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were also present on the occasion.