HANGU: The residents of Hangu have been asked by the government to set aside their sectarian differences and chalk out a compromise to thwart further violence in the area.
While addressing a jirga comprising Shia and Sunni elders of the district on Wednesday, Kohat Division Commissioner Syed Jamal Shah said members of the two sects should live in harmony and avoid challenging the government’s writ. “The government will not accept illegal demands made by either sect, nor will it favour any particular sect,” said Shah.
According to Shah, he had been directed by the chief minister to ensure that Shias and Sunnis find middle ground and work out their differences before Muharram. He added those who try to create instability would be dealt with severely.
“A third element exists in the region and is trying to sabotage harmony. Therefore, Shias and Sunnis should decide to live with each other peacefully. The government will not allow anyone to disrupt its work and spread violence,” said Shah.
The commissioner further said agitated members of both sects should leave the peace process to the elders. “The government wants peace and stability in Hangu within one month and delay tactics will not be tolerated anymore,” stressed Shah.
He also urged the jirga elders to set aside their personal motives and make an effort to establish harmony between both sects.
On April 2, a jirga comprising members of both sects was convened in which participants agreed to settle their sectarian differences by April 19. However, a consensus could not be reached on certain issues after which the meetings were discontinued.
On May 16, another such jirga was held during which the deputy commissioner gave the residents a 20-day deadline to solve their issues but the process again met a dead end. For the past one week, the government has been making efforts to force Shias and Sunnis in the district to resolve their differences and restore harmony before the Muharram begins.
Hangu lies on the border of Kurram and Orakzai agencies and is one of the most sensitive districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It has seen several incidents of sectarian violence and terrorism in the last few years.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2014.
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