Gomal Zam Dam workers: PHC asks K-P governor to expedite recovery efforts

Bench told ban placed on food supplies where the abductees are believed to be held.

Our Correspondent April 10, 2013
Bench told ban placed on food supplies where the abductees are believed to be held. PHOTO: NNI

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has once again asked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Shaukatullah Khan to hold a meeting with concerned officials in an effort to recover the abducted Gomal Zam Dam workers.

The court on Tuesday ordered senior officials from federal interior and defence ministries, finance members and political agents of North and South Waziristan, and chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) be summoned to discuss the issue.

The orders were issued by a division bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali while hearing a petition filed by one of the kidnapped workers’ father, Ikramullah.

The bench observed the issue was being taken lightly because the workers were ordinary people, adding if they had been relatives of high-ranking army or civil officials, authorities would have searched the area up to the Pak-Afghan border.

“I doubt the credentials of everyone involved in this case,” remarked Justice Khan. “You (political agents) have failed, would it not be better to pack up your luggage and leave the area to the mercy of those people (Taliban)?”

Malik Mujtaba, a legal advisor at the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Secretariat, informed the bench the secretariat had been making a consistent effort, but Wapda had failed to take concrete steps to help recover the workers.

North Waziristan Political Agent Siraj Khan told the bench that economic restrictions and ban on food supplies had been imposed in areas where the political administration suspected the abductees were being held, adding all efforts were being made for their safe recovery.

When Justice Khan questioned South Waziristan PA Shahidullah why a jirga comprised of local Mehsood clerics had not been formed to negotiate with the abductors, the PA replied it had been constituted, but the jirga was warned of dire consequences by the Taliban.

The bench later asked the K-P governor to summon concerned officials and facilitate the workers’ safe recovery. The court added it would take action against the respondents if the workers were not recovered soon. The case was later adjourned till April 30.

Nine people working on the Gomal Zam Dam project in South Waziristan were kidnapped in August 2012 by unidentified armed men. In addition to demanding ransom, the abductors also sought the release of some high-profile militants.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013.


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