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The Express Tribune

Parachinaris: Second-class citizens of the state?

Published: May 14, 2011
Protesting youth arrested, police yet to register cases; government still quiet.
ISLAMABAD: 

The Youth of Parachinar (YoP), during the 23rd day of their peaceful protest, faced a police action while trying to assemble outside parliament during the joint session on Friday.
According to police, 11 of the protestors who tried to approach the entrance of the parliament house were arrested for violating section 144 imposed in the city. Police had not registered a case against them till the time this report was filed.
However, the concerned magistrate had asked the police to set them free following a brief detention at the lockup after obtaining guarantees that they would not get involved in such violations again.
The protestors were arrested when they tried to breach the security cordon and approach the Parliament House from Parade Avenue, where they gathered to register their protest every day for over three weeks.
Over 50 protesting Youth of Parachinar (YoP) managed to get to the entry gate of the Parliament House, where top military and civilian leaders were due for a joint session of parliament.
They chanted slogans against Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Inter Services Intelligence Chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and the civilian leadership.
Fearing a law and order situation and a breach in security plans for the joint session, police decided to disperse the mob. Arrests were made by the police to deter them and they were eventually pushed back to Parade Avenue.
The arrested men were shifted to Secretariat Police Station where they were being kept in the lock up. None of them had been freed till the filing of this report.
A press release issued by the YoP claimed police used force against the protestors to disperse them and picked up over a dozen of them before shifting them to unknown places. They complained that despite print and electronic media’s continuous efforts to highlight the issue, the government had given them the cold shoulder.
The statement suggested that broken promises are fast becoming Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s forte, and lamented that his promise on the assembly floor to resolve the issue within 48 hours is still to be fulfilled.
They claimed that the incident was an outcome of the continuous negligence by the government. They held Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani and Malik responsible for the alleged torture of students from Parachinar.
The YOP also appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the incident, along with the situation in Parachinar, as he did for Balochistan. “The Chief Justice should order the government to open the Parachinar-Thal road,” they said, threatening that the entire Parachinar will march on Islamabad if the issue is not resolved.
Later, the remaining protestors marched from National Press Club to the Parliament, this time for the release of their arrested colleagues.
About a month ago, a number of students and youth from Parachinar gathered in front of the National Press Club and demanded that the government open the Thal-Parachinar-Peshawar road. Observing a hunger strike, they also wanted the government to secure the release of their loved ones from the custody of the Taliban.
They claimed the Taliban had breached the peace accord and were involved in terrorist activities in Kurram Agency, where they had established control over lower Kurram Agency and were operating fearlessly.
The security agencies were not doing anything to “rein in” the Taliban, the protestors claimed. They vowed to continue their protest till their demands are met.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2011.

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