Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Friday that a sum of Rs100 million has been allocated for the security of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) a day after 19 Shia passengers were mowed down by masked men near Babusar Top in Kaghan Valley.
The minister, condemning Thursday’s killing of Shias in Babusar Top Pass, insisted that the main routes along the Karakoram Highway were safe. Terrorism incidents, according to him, are taking place on the short cuts taken by bus drivers. These short cuts are being used by militants to target their prey, he explained.
The minister appealed to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to remain patient and help law enforcement personnel to foil those attempting to destabilise the country.
“Though there is no compensation of life, the government will announce a package for those killed in the tragic incident,” said Malik, adding that he intended to visit Gilgit-Baltistan. The minister said that the responsibility to maintain overall law and order situation was transferred to provinces after 18th constitutional amendment.
However, the interior ministry is providing logistical support and sharing intelligence with the provinces from time to time.
Mansehra police on Friday lodged a first information report (FIR) against the assassins of. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Inspector Aurangzeb Khan of Kaghan police station.
District Police Officer Sher Akbar Khan said that senior investigation staff have begun a probe into the matter in collaboration with intelligence agencies.
Khan said that every aspect of the incident is being probed to confirm whether the attackers were the same who had earlier shot dead 18 Shia Muslims after forcing them off four buses in Kohistan on February 28, or whether they really belonged to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Waziristan based group.
According to the FIR, around 30 to 35 assailants dressed in military uniform stopped four vans and a Shehzore truck loaded with broilers, heading to Gilgit from Rawalpindi.
The attackers who were masked and heavily armed, asked each passenger to show their identity cards, while the Shia passengers were hauled off and lined on the road side with their hands tied behind their backs. They were forced to lie on the ground and were sprayed with bullets.
The FIR further states that the attackers also damaged the vehicles before leaving the crime scene.
The case was registered as FIR No 143 under sections 6, 7 ATA, 302/34, 148, 149 and 427 of the PPC.
This was the second attack on Shia passengers in Gilgit, under the territorial jurisdiction of Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in six months.
UN, HRCP condemn killings
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “appalled” by the sectarian killings that took place in Gilgit. “The secretary general expresses his outrage over such deliberate attacks on people due to their religious beliefs in Pakistan,” said a statement released by UN spokesman Martin Nesirky which strongly condemned the attack.
The Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) has also condemned the killing of Shia passengers and demanded an explanation from the authorities on why people could not be shielded from such attacks.
“The authorities owe an explanation to the people for their inability to crack down on sectarian killers and for the most flagrant failure in protecting the lives of citizens,” the commission said. With additional input from agencies
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.