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FC controls all posts, hilltops along Afghan border in Khyber

By Ibrahim Shinwari 2016-07-30
LANDI KOTAL: The Frontier Corps along with the Khasadar and Levies personnel have taken effective control of almost all checkposts and hilltops in the Khyber Agency`sremoteBazaarZakhakhel area along the border with Afghanistan.

According to information gathered from the security forces and political administration, the FC and Khasadar personnel fortified their position in the strategic Mishtari camp the forces headquarters in Bazaar Zakhakhel.

They have also established joint checkposts in Tsasubi Kandaw and Maro Sar as part of the government`s border management policy to check illegal entry of Afghans into Pakistan via designated border points.

Officials said that a Lt. Colonel, Major and Captain of FC alongwith a subedar of Khyber`s Khasadar force were officiating their platoons at the Mishtari camp. The FC personnel were also deployed at Umar post, Ghalchi Kandaw, Mangal Bagh Kandaw and Tangay Sar hilltops and passages to check the movement of suspected militants in the region which had served as headquarters of banned militant organisation Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) from 2005 to 2011.

LI chief Mangal Bagh along with hundreds of his armed supporters fled his Nala Malakdinkhel base in Bara and settled down in Gogrina inBazaarZakhakhelinearly2005 when the forces launched the first military operation in Bara with first mortar shells destroying the building where he had established his illegal F M radio station. Mangal Baghhimselfhadnarrowlyescaped the attack.

Using Gogrina as his headquarters, Mangal Bagh and his armed band simultaneously waged a retaliatory war against security forces in Bara and his `ideological` opponents affiliated with Ansaarul Islam based in Lar Bagh markaz of Tirah valley.

Soon a number of outlaws belonging to Bazaar Zakhakhelannounced their `allegiance` to Mangal Bagh for fear of persecution as LI chief unleashed a reign of terror by public executions and third degree torture of his opponents in private jails established in Gogrina and patronising kidnapping for ransom alongside controlling the lucrative illegal business of smuggling of foreign goods from Afghanistan to Pakistan via the Gurrhoku-Tabbai route.

Mangal Bagh was forced to leave Gogrina after developing serious differences with his Bazaar Zakhakhel lieutenants over the LPs execution of a local cleric Mulana Hashim in 2010 who was widely respected by the area residents. The expulsion of LI chief from the area paved the way for creation of a local militant group mostly comprising the former LI volunteers by the name of Tauheedul Islam in April 2011 which was led by Ghuncha Gul, a former close aide of Mangal Bagh.

The two groups had been at loggerheads for nearly three years which resulted in killing of hundreds of their supporters and sympathisers, including Ghuncha Gul who was kidnapped and executed by LI activists.

Tauheedul Islam announced itssupport for the government and renamed itself as Zakhakhel peace committee after security forces launched a military operation against LI and other outlawed groups in the region in 2014.

The so-called Zakhakhel peace committee was however allowed to keep control of most of the important routes, passages and hilltops as the forces were engaged in military operations both in Bara plains and parts of Tirah valley.

In the meantime, residents of Bazaar Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal made a number of complaints to the political administration about the `high-handed` attitude of the Bazaar Zakhakhel committee and also their alleged involvement in unlawful activities like establishing private jails and parallel administration.

Reacting to the complaints against the so-called peace volunteers, the government gradually limited their influence alongside initiating development projects which included the establishment of schools and health centers and building of roads, provision of electricity and initiating water supply schemes.

The administration also accommodated local youth into Khasadarand Levies force which caused a serious drain over the recruitment of volunteers for the so-called peace committee.

With increase in the number of Khasadar and Levies personnel and successful culmination of Khyber-1 and Khyber-2 military operations in both Bara and Tirah valley, the government gradually moved surplus forces into the Bazaar Zakhakhel area and took control of passages and hilltops which were in occupation of the armed group, though named as a peace committee.

Accompanied by assistant political agent Rahimullah Mehsud and heads of various government departments Khyber Agency political agent Khalid Mehmud visited Bazaar Zakhakhel on Wednesday last and held an open court for the first time in the region. The residents openly spoke about their problems and apprised the administration officials about the delay in the execution of development schemes announced in the past.

The elders assured the officials of providing free of cost land for building of schools and a type-D hospital while they demanded provision of clean drinking water.