Like all other major cities where reports of extortion are surfacing, tribal areas are no exception.
This came in to limelight when Upper Mohmand Assistant Political Agent (APA) Rasool Khan told journalists on Saturday that the political administration had received complaints from traders in Mohmand Agency.
Rasool said that groups were threatening people who did not succumb to their demands by guising as militant groups from the agency. “We had carried out investigation and found a group of about 20 people making calls to local tribal traders, saying they were from militant groups and demanding money,” he said.
The APA also estimated that there were about 15 groups were demanding money from traders pretending to be Taliban militants. One of the groups managed to get Rs1.5 million after threatening a merchant in Ghallanai, Saleem Khan.
Two men were arrested on charges of collecting money from local traders by means of extortion. Adnan and Salam from Haleemzai were presented to the media and taken through the bazaar so they could be identified by the locals. More arrests are expected soon.
Rasool said that extortion has become a common crime, and that traders falling prey to this should inform the local administration so appropriate action can be taken.
In the past, some of the traders’ shops have been blown up when they refused to give into extortion.
Owners of marble factory units in the area also claim they have been threatened time and time again.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.