‘Thousands’ march in Swat amidst fears of TTP return

Protesters hold federal, provincial govts responsible for unrest in region

In view of the deteriorating law and order situation in Swat and Malakand division, a peace demonstration was organised by the Swat Qaumi Jirga at Nishat Chowk, Mingora. People belonging to different sects, officials and workers of political parties and leaders of Swat Qaumi Jirga participated in the demonstration.

The protesters also carried placards with slogans against terrorism and in support for peace.

Swat Qaumi Jirga leader Mukhtiar Khan Yousafzai said that the central and provincial governments should clarify their position on the current situation. “Why negotiations are being held with the Taliban? Why Swat leaders were ignored in the negotiations?”

“We are peace-loving people, [and] we want peace. If the government does not play a role, the people of Swat know how to protect themselves. These people are no longer the ones who will be deceived,” he added

Awami National Party District President Ayub Khan said that the Taliban had issued a declaration that they would not spare the members of the peace committee and the leaders of the Awami National Party. “We are not afraid of anyone and we are not going to run away from here. Let us fight… we will restore peace.”

Ayub Khan said the provincial government had completely disappeared from the scene and the assembly members had fled, but the people of Swat should remember that “we are standing and will continue to stand against terrorism”.

Dr Khalid Mehmood of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said that this time the people had woken up and would not allow any unrest in the region. “We also appeal to international organisations to take notice of the deteriorating situation of peace here,” he said.

“If the government fails, we can also knock on the door of the United Nations. The provincial government is putting debris on the central government and the central government on the provincial government, but we are no longer those who will be deceived. The people have woken up… which is evident from the participation of thousands of people [in the demonstration],” he added. The protesters held both the federal and provincial governments responsible for the unrest in the region.