DERA ISMAIL KHAN:
Residents of Dera Ismail Khan organised a protest from Liaqat Park to the busy Topanwalla Chowk to show their solidarity with the police officials suspended after the jailbreak on July 29.
On the said day, members of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) found no resistance in freeing nearly 250 inmates, including 49 high-profile militants, from DI Khan Central Jail.
Members of various Saraiki political parties, civil society organisations and relatives of police officers participated in the protest on Sunday. The protesters chanted “DI Khan police zindabad” and carried banners reading “Shaheed police ko salam.” They gathered at Topanwalla Chowk, blocking Circular Road till the speeches were over.
“The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is hiding its own incompetence and negligence by trying to put the blame entirely on the DI Khan police. This is unjust and cruel,” said Pakistan Saraiki Party President Khizer Hayat Daiyal, addressing the crowd. “The people of DI Khan will not remain silent; we will continue to raise our voices against the suspension of police personnel until they are reinstated.”
Various speakers also criticised the K-P Minister of Revenue Ali Amin Gandapur for his comments on the jailbreak. Earlier Gandapur had said the police showed cowardice when “[they] took refuge in gutters during the attack...the nation would have been proud of its police had they laid down their lives by defending the prison but instead, they simply disappeared.”
Civil society member Muhammad Hanif Pipa said, “It diminishes the morale of the police to say they showed cowardice during the Taliban attack, and hid behind walls and in sewers.” It is not the police but senior government officials who are responsible, who received prior information about the jailbreak but did nothing to prevent the TTP from storming the jail, asserted Pipa. Maligning the police is directly disrespecting locals, he added.
Daiyal later demanded all suspended police officials be reinstated till the completion of the inquiry report and then their fate should be decided as per the report’s findings. Daiyal was referring to the three-member inquiry team which comprises Board of Revenue Senior Member Waqar Ayub, Home and Tribal Affairs Department Special Secretary Syed Alamgir Shah and Additional IG (Special Branch) Syed Akhtar Ali Shah.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.