PPP leader among four killed, resort hotel torched in Pakistan

June 26th, 2008 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Peshawar (Pakistan), June 26 (DPA) Pro-Taliban militants Thursday killed a leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) along with three members of his family, and separately set ablaze the country’s only ski resort in northwest Pakistan. Locals said that unidentified gunmen attacked the house of Abdul Kabir Khan and killed him along with his son, wife and one female member of the family in Matta sub-division in the conflict-ridden Swat Valley.

Shoib, a resident of the area, said that following the incident heavily armed rebels loyal to firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlullah were seen patrolling the roads in Matta, Kabal and Bara Bandai areas of the district.

Abdul Kabir, a senior leader of slain ex-premier Benazir Bhutto’s PPP, also played a major role in peace jirgas held in the area under the government-launched peace process.

Separately, the militants torched the famous PTDC Motel in the Malamjaba area and damaged the chair lifts. PTDC Malamjaba has been a world-renown skiing spot and a favourite destination for tourists.

Niaz Ahmad Khan, a local journalist, said the PTDC motel had been completely destroyed by the inferno and the militants had closed the main road leading to Malamjaba.

“The armed men are warning the people not to visit the area,” he said, adding that due to scorching heat in other parts of NWFP people had recently started pouring into the Malamjaba valley.

The district administration confirmed that militants had also set fire to at least two girls’ schools in the Shamozai area of Barikot and attacked a security check post in different parts of Swat, which is part of militancy-hit North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Swat, a tourist haven until early last year, was engulfed by violence after Fazlullah’s men tried to enforce Taliban-style laws and established a parallel Islamic judicial system.

The military launched a full-scale operation against the rebels in October, triggering a violent conflict that left hundreds of people, including security personnel, dead.

The battles subsided in March when the government initiated negotiations with militants and finally brokered a controversial peace deal on May 21.

Under the deal the government was to withdraw troops and enforce partially Islamic laws in Swat in exchange for a halt to militant attacks.

But the sides could not agree on how and when to implement the accord, leading to the resurgence of violence.

An important meeting between Fazlullah’s representatives and officials of the provincial government was held in Peshawar, NWFP’s capital, Thursday to discuss the emerging situation in the valley.

Release of Fazlullah’s fighters from prisons and withdrawal of security forces were the two main points on the meeting agenda.

Talking to journalists after the day-long negotiations, Bashir Bilour, senior NWFP minister, said both sides agreed to continue with the peace process and take practical steps for the implementation of the peace agreement.

“We are taking steps to release the prisoners. Withdrawing the army from Swat will be possible only when the situation is normalized in the valley,” he added.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |