PESHAWAR: “We have always rescued each other, risking our lives was a matter of no concern but political affiliation seems to have divided us, for the time being, I mean,” says Haji Abbas, one of the leading members of the major local militia against militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
As soon as NA-4 fell vacant after a disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) National Assembly member, Gulzar Khan, passed away, political activism reached its peak. Even the militia got divided, as three different groups began supporting three different political parties.
The Lashkar (local militia) consisted of three major groups -- Late Haji Abdul Malik, Late Dilawar Khan and Hajji Abbas group. The groups were so well connected that in the event of a terror attack or even upon recieving information on militants’ presence in the area, they would turn towards hunting down militants.
Although there had been differences in the past since Malik’s and Khan’s groups supported different political parties, with emergence of Abbas’s group, the rift has deepened since all three group leaders do not see eye to eye.
They faced, chased, fought and targeted militants collectively and incurred huge losses, including losing leading militia members, in bomb blasts, suicide and IED attacks. However, the by-polls seem to have divided them for the time being.
The group members are of the view that political differences aside, they will always offer their services to protect the homeland and would always stand against militants if the situation worsened again.
“My dear son, we have rescued each other when militants were chasing us and we will again be united against militants in future [God forbid] but when it comes to politics, this is every individuals’ right to choose,” was the way Abbas told The Express Tribune.
Around 70-years old, Abbas has lost his grandsons, brother in law, cousins and other relatives. Besides, he himself escaped death over seven times during militant attacks including target killings, bomb explosions outside his house and IED blasts on his routes, between 2008 and 2013. Abbas has been supporting a Milli Muslim League (MML) as well as Hafiz Saeed’s supportive candidate Haji Liaqat Ali Khan.
Another major group which had been part of Jamat-e-Islami in the past and has already won local government election after shifting political loyalties towards Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also held similar views.
“You know my uncle [Haji Abdul Malik] was targeted in a suicide attack, IED explosions claimed life of our second-in-command and rockets were fired at our homes but we never stopped and collectively fought against them [militants],” Khalid Khan, a Malik group leader stated adding ‘but it does not mean we don’t have political differences.’
Khalid Khan stated that he remembered when they would reach out to rescue each other but “now, since we are affiliated with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, we are supporting our candidate and they their’s and it won’t harm our unity [against militants] in future.”
Last but not the least is Late Dilawar Khan’s group which had been, since long, friends of the incumbent president Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Amir Muqam. Although Khan’s group contested local government polls supporting the Awami National Party (ANP), they have nevertheless joined hands with the PML-N again.
“The nation’s enemy is our enemy and we will never let our unity go but this is something different and this is the reason why we are [sort of] against each other,” Amanullah Khan, brother of late Dilawar Khan told The Express Tribune.
“Whatever the situation is, whoever wins, we have differences politically but we are united against the enemy,” Amanullah concluded.
Keeping in view the law and order situation at NA-4, not even a single among 269 polling stations is normal. According to the documents, 182 polling stations have been identified as most sensitive where the rest as sensitive polling stations across NA-4.
A total of 269 presiding officers, 837 assistant presiding officers, and 837 polling officers will be deputed during the by-polls where some 3,97,952 voters including 1,62,825 female voters will be casting their votes tomorrow [October 26]. Some 14 including eight independent besides candidates from ANP, PML-N, PTI, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Labbaik are contesting for NA-4.