The inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) Ghizer District were gripped by fear after receiving news that half a dozen suspicious people entered the peaceful district from Chitral to carry out terrorist acts during Eid. The attacks never came, and the reports appear to have been exaggerated at the very least.
According to local media reports, at least six terrorists entered Ghizer from Chitral via the Shandur Pass. This instilled a sense of apprehension among locals as about 40 personnel of the Chitral force were killed by recent militant attacks at check posts on the Afghan border.
Ghizer District is one of the peaceful areas of Gilgit Division and has a population of 200,000, 95 per cent of whom are members of the Shia Ismaili community.
However, top district administration officials had ruled out any such report from the intelligence agencies. Ghizer Deputy Comissioner Shozaib Saeed informed The Express Tribune that there was no credible information from any intelligence agency. However, all necessary measures were taken to deal with any untoward incidence and all religious congregations were provided with foolproof security during Eid prayers.
The commissioner also said that investigations were being carried to verify the reports, and security at check posts connecting Ghizer District with Chitral was beefed up after receiving the news.
Deputy Superintendant of Police (DSP) Farman Ali, who is also acting SP (Superintendant of Police) of the District, stated that the police and intelligence agencies are prepared to cope with any terror act. He also endorsed that there is no intelligence report about any terrorists having entered into Ghizer from Chitral.
The DSP said that the district is short of police as it only has 300 police personnel, 150 of whom have been deployed in the valleys that connect Ghizer with Chitral.
However, the local population still had reservations about the measures taken by law enforcement agencies, claiming that hashish, weapons and other illegal goods easily reach the district due to security lapses at check posts.
Chitral is a sensitive district, as its border connects with Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces, Nuristan and especially Kunar, and infiltration of criminals from Afghanistan into Chitral is a routine matter, which also cannot be ruled out in Ghizer’s case.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.