Terror and Crime Make Life Miserable for Peshawar Residents

Peshawar in 1986.

"We are heading towards a total collapse if the situation is not handled between Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” says PN Member Bushra Gohar with regard to the troublesome situation in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the North-West of Pakistan. An article by Javed Aziz Khan for The International News:

PESHAWAR: As life goes on in the provincial capital, the situation is troublesome owing to frequent bombings, extortion s, targetted killings and kidnapping for ransom over the last many years.

Compared to the period a few years ago, many residents of Peshawar fear that death is imminent. Those who have progressed in life or have earned a few millions after lot of hard work (or even through unfair means) are prone to the fear of attacks.

The situation is no different in most parts of Fata and the province, except Hazara division where the situation is still under control. People are not safe even inside their homes. Three sisters were among four women killed while reciting the holy Quran when a suicide bomber entered and blew up in their house to dodge those who were chasing him in Esa Khan Garhi on Phandu Road in Peshawar.

In another incident, nine male members of a family were killed execution style in Mashokhel village after they were brought out from their house and their females and kids were locked inside.The city has sacrificed thousands of people in hundreds of attacks during the last almost one decade of terror, but still there seems to be no end to it.

“People are not safe inside their houses, especially in the areas located on Kohat Road and Ring Road as anyone can bomb your house, lob a hand-grenade or fire a rocket or mortar shell,” said Naila, a housewife.

“Nothing is normal though life goes on. You can’t stop doing the routine matters despite an overpowering sense of fear. You can manage with inflation, loadshedding and anything but this threat to your life and that of your loved ones has mentally destroyed everybody,” said the mother of three.

Though there was on an average one blast every three or four days in Peshawar over the last almost eight years, bombs are going off almost on a daily basis since the start of the current year, especially during the month of February. Target killings, extortion calls, kidnapping and now attacks by men wearing the uniform of security personnel has made life miserable for the people of Peshawar, once known as the city of flowers.

“Those who have gained some status after earning a few millions through their hard work over the last three or four decades are on the run. They have been receiving calls and letters to pay extortion on almost daily basis. A large number of people are paying the money since they have witnessed the killings of many who had refused,” said a trader who has received such threats.

Requesting not to be named, the trader added that even a small bang panics him as he fears his house or office is about to be bombed. “I salute the people of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially Peshawar, for the way they are continuing with their routine life despite existential threats. Peshawar bears the brunt for whatever happens in Fata or other parts of the country,” said Bushra Gohar, a former lawmaker and civil society activist.

She recalled the good old days of Peshawar when there was no threat to any individual, whether man or woman. “The doctors, lawyers, politicians, mediapersons, almost everybody is under constant threat but they are still continuing with their jobs and lives, though some of those who had the option have shifted to other cities or gone abroad. We are heading towards a total collapse if the situation is not handled between Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” opined Bushra Gohar.

Many well-off people have stopped using new and expensive vehicles and are keeping low-profile. Many police officers, cabinet members and other VVIPs, who loved to ride the cars with blue-light or with a Pakistani flag, don’t prefer riding the official cars now. Many have changed their number plates so that they are not noticed while on the road. A majority of the VVIPs have also shifted their families to Islamabad.

Those living in the villages in the limits of Matani Police Station migrated to safer places when an operation was being carried out in neighbouring Darra Adamkhel. Now many living in the limits of Badaber, Sarband, Bhanamari, Yakatoot, Mathra and even the posh Hayatabad police stations have developed a serious sense of insecurity. Though police officials deny this fact, a good number of people from the towns in these areas have already shifted to safer places.

A large number of people are avoiding unnecessary visits to public places, bazaars and parks. Many restaurants on the Ring Road give a deserted look after evening since the route has become the most troubled one. “People are still coming but their number is suddenly reduced when there is an increase in the law and order occurrences. They want to be home at the earliest,” said Baz Gul, a barbecue cook at a restaurant near Hayatabad.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police (IGP) Nasir Khan Durrani is hopeful that the situation will improve with the measures taken by the police all over the province, especially in Peshawar.

“We have rounded up a number of people and the actions are going on. We have also prepared three ordinances and a number of other measures have been taken that will improve the situation,” he added.


Originally published by The International News.

Photo by toufeeque.

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