KOHAT/ PESHAWAR: The provincial capital should be handed over to the Pakistan Army as the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has failed to protect its citizens, Shia elders said on Saturday.
Addressing a news conference at the Imamia Mosque in Hayatabad Phase-V—the scene of Friday’s devastating gun and suicide attack which claimed 22 lives—elders struggled to come to terms with the loss of fellow community members. Those present on the occasion included Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWN) leader Allama Syed Jawad Hadi and Maulana Ramzan Tauqir of the Shia Ulema Council among other prominent figures.
Hadi said that apart from giving administrative control to the army, the Shia community also demands deployment of Frontier Constabulary to guard mosques and imambargahs in the city.
He said the provincial government failed to secure their places of worship despite repeated demands for security and arms licences. Hadi said he met K-P chief minister to ask for increased security at their mosques and imambargahs after a suicide attack on Madrassah Shaheed Arif Hussaini in Gulshan Colony.
“The government and police officials at the meeting assured heightened security, but no proper arrangements were made despite repeated appeals,” he said. “The results are apparent for everyone to see.”
Hadi vowed to rebuild the mosque by next Friday and remained confident a good number of people would attend the congregation.
Reiterating their demand to handover Peshawar to the army, both Allama Hadi and Maulana Tauqir demanded the K-P government pay compensation for the damages. “To ensure security and restore peace in the city, an operation to crush terrorists must be conducted,” said Hadi. He also demanded posthumous Tamgha-e-Shujaat for Abbas Ali who grabbed one of the suicide attackers and stopped him from detonating his explosives.
Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain visited Imamia Mosque where he said the nation was united against terrorists after the Army Public School attack. He urged the federal and provincial governments to realise that terrorism was the largest problem faced by the country.
The heirs of seven Kohat natives who were killed in the Imamia Mosque attack held a protest and laid the victims’ coffins on Kohat-Hangu Road.
Amid tight security arrangements by police on Saturday, relatives of DSP Naveed Bangash, Farhan Ali, Riaz Hussain, Muhammad, Mohsin Raza, Zafar Abbas and Gulfam Hussain demanded justice for the brutal killing of their loved ones. The bodies were later taken to the native areas of the deceased and laid to rest. All the victims belonged either to Sher Kot or Usterzai areas of the district. Before the burial, the bodies were taken to Kacha Pakha area on Hangu Road where a demonstration was held against the killing of innocent citizens. The road was already blocked by the police as one of their security measures. Kohat DPO Muhammad Sohaib Ashraf, other police officers and elders of the area took part in the funerals. The road ultimately opened for traffic after being blocked for two hours.
Back in Peshawar, social activists also protested against the attack.
The 16/12 Action Forum and other organisations gathered outside the Peshawar Press Club and demanded justice for the victims.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2015.