DERA ISMAIL KHAN:
The Mullah Nazir Group of Taliban has assured aspiring candidates that the insurgents would not interfere with the election process in the South Waziristan tribal region.
The assurance was made by Mullah Nazir Group chief Salahuddin Ayubi, locally known as Bahwal Khan, in a meeting with over 50 candidates contesting NA-41 (Tribal Area-VI, South Waziristan) or their representatives in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan Agency.
Local tribesmen are free to vote for the candidate of their choice, a source privy to the meeting quoted Salahuddin as telling the meeting.
Though he assured the candidates that his group would not interfere in the voting process, he attached some stringent conditions for trouble-free balloting in the constituency. Firstly, the candidates will have to stage public rallies in an open place outside Rustam Bazaar, the main market in the area, due to security concerns.
Secondly, candidates with no popular vote bank should better not contest the elections. Thirdly, the candidates have to avoid indecent criticism of their rivals in their speeches.
Fourthly, the candidates of three parties – PPP, MQM and ANP – were told about the security threats they might face in the region. They have been told to avoid open election campaigns, use of party flags and banners in public places. The ANP has even been advised against holding public meetings.
Invitation to Friday’s meeting was made through pamphlets distributed by the Taliban in some parts of Wana, including Rustam Bazaar. In the pamphlet, they were asked either to come in person or send their representatives for the meeting where they would be served with ‘tea and biscuits’.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.