Pakistani tribesmen ignore leaders' calls to end sit-in, demand arrest over killing of Naqeeb

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Tribal elders and youth at a protest camp in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad. (AN photos)
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Tribal elders and youth at a protest camp in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad. (AN photo)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Pakistani tribesmen ignore leaders' calls to end sit-in, demand arrest over killing of Naqeeb

ISLAMABAD: A group of tribesmen from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas has rejected a call by tribal elders to end a sit-in protest in the capital.

The protesters are seeking justice for Naqeeb Mehsud, a 27-year-old aspiring male model who was killed on Jan. 13 in what they claim was a falsely staged police encounter.

Most of the tribal elders left the sit-in early on Wednesday morning, but several protesters refused to pack up following verbal assurances by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to meet their demands.

Badshahi Khan, one of the protest’s organizers, told Arab News that the tribal elders did not discuss their meeting with the prime minister with fellow protesters and took a unilateral decision to end the sit-in.

A 15-member delegation of the Mehsud tribe, from the Waziristan tribal region, called on the prime minister on Tuesday night and presented their demands.

“We are here and will continue to protest until all our demands are met,” Manzoor Pashteen, a member of the delegation, said. “We cannot believe the verbal assurances of the prime minister.”

Pashteen said that he had asked the tribal elders to speak with protesters before making any decision on the sit-in, but they did not listen to him.

“I am with my tribal youth and am staying here with all those protesting for justice for Naqeeb Mehsud,” he said. “The politicians have called off the sit-in. The ordinary people are staying here.”

Pashteen said that the prime minister had refused to confirm in writing that the delegation’s demands would be met.

The protesters’ demands include the arrest of the fugitive suspended official Malir Rao Anwar, leader of the team responsible for the operation in which Mehsud and three other men were killed.

“The prime minister has promised the tribesmen that all available resources will be used to locate and arrest Rao Anwar,” the Minister for Capital Administration and Development, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, said. “The government’s job is to (serve) the people, and we are trying our best to do it.”

Tribal elders called off the sit-in after they met the prime minister and received a verbal assurance that their demands would be met, according to Mohammed Jamal-ud-Din, one of the members of the delegation. However, he warned that was not necessarily the end of the matter.

He said the tribesmen had no wish to disrupt public life in the capital, but “if our demands are not met in due time, we reserve the right to protest in front of the Parliament House.”

Jamal-ud-Din said the protesters would continue to raise the issue in forums including the National Assembly and Senate.

An investigation team headed by Additional Insp. Gen. of the Counter-Terrorism Department Sanaullah Abbasi declared Mehsud innocent in its report, saying he was the victim of an “extrajudicial killing.”


Taliban under attack in Badghis province

In this file photo, Afghan National Army soldiers carry out an exercise during a live firing at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan officials say around 100 soldiers fled their posts and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, in the latest setback for the country's battered security forces. (AP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Taliban under attack in Badghis province

  • Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan
  • In a statement, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government launched a ground and air offensive on Monday to flush out Taliban insurgents from a key area in the northwestern province of Badghis, which is close to the border with Turkmenistan, officials said.

The focal point of the operation was the Bala Murghab district where, a few days ago, the Taliban had captured dozens of government forces in addition to overrunning several parts of the district, which serves as a gateway to the northern areas for the insurgents.

Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan, officials said. 

One provincial official and a lawmaker from the province, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that Turkmenistan was due to hand over the troops to Afghanistan on Monday.

Sayed Mohmmad Musa, a lawmaker from the province, said that hundreds of government troops have taken part in the operation, which had resulted in the deaths of several of the Taliban’s top commanders.

“Through the operation, the government wants to not only regain the control of the district, but is also trying to free those forces who either had to join the Taliban or were captured by them several days ago,” he said by phone.

“There is heavy fighting there and the government wants to end the Taliban threat because it is a strategic location,” he said.

Meanwhile, spokesmen for the defense and interior ministries did not answer repeated calls for comment about the government’s operation and about the Taliban’s rampage days ago.

In a statement released earlier, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed.

There were conflicting reports about the number of troops who were captured by the Taliban and those who had fled to Turkmenistan, while the Taliban said 90 soldiers had surrendered.

The development comes amid continuing efforts in recent months by US diplomats and Taliban delegates for finding a peaceful settlement to the war. 

Both the Taliban and government forces, backed by the US military, have stepped up their attacks in a number of areas in the country.

Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst from Badghis, said the remoteness of the province, changes in the leadership of the ministry and confusion among troops about the peace process were some of the factors for the Taliban’s gains in Badghis.

“The time of US and Taliban formally announcing a deal has become closer; this has disheartened some troops in some parts of the country to keep on fighting,” Saeedi told Arab News.

Mirza Mohammed Yarmand, a military analyst and retired general, agreed. He told Arab News: “Unfortunately, the schism and differences among the political leaders of the country have caused disruption and slowness in the conduct of responsibilities of officers in the battlefield.”

He added: “Logistical shortcomings, the amount of attacks conducted by the enemy, (the government’s) failure to transport on time the war casualties from the battle ground and the amount of time officers spend in war zone, are among the reasons for incidents such as Bala Murghab.”

“When there is difference among the leaders that certainly impacts the moral of troops,” he said.