PESHAWAR - Observing that militants could stage a comeback and the decision should not be taken in haste, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday asked the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to consult the federation and the army before it proceeds with its decision to pull troops out from Malakand Division.
Hearing the missing persons case, PHC Chief Justice Justice Dost Muhammad Khan remarked that the KPK government should not act in haste to pull out the army from Malakand. He further said that the interior ministry and the army should be consulted over the matter.
The chief justice further remarked that the army had been deployed to maintain peace and there would be no harm if it would stay longer for the same purpose. He said withdrawal of troops in haste would create vacuum and KP government could face troubles in case of militants’ comeback in these areas.
The PHC chief justice said the detention centres – where most of the missing persons are kept – were managed by the army and a pullout without proper transfer of authority to another entity will jeopardise the situation.
The PHC chief justice told advocate general that the pullout should take place once all legal requirements are fulfilled.
Chief justice asked the concerned authorities to set up an inquiry board for this matter and ensure that the entire record of those held in the detention centres is provided to the court before troops’ withdrawal.
The court said the report by the inquiry board should be submitted on October 24.
The PHC orders came following a gory incident in Upper Dir in which two senior army officers were martyred on Sunday in an IED blast.
Last week KP government had unilaterally announced a gradual pullout of the army from the Malakand Division which includes areas like Swat, Mansehra and Dir.
Pakistan Army is incharge of law and order situation in the division since famous 2009 Swat operation following extremists takeover of the valley.
KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak had said that in the first phase security forces would be withdrawn from Shangla and Buner districts next month.
In the second phase the troops would be pulled out from Swat‚ Upper Dir‚ Lower Dir districts and other parts of Malakand Division.
The chief minister had said the security forces had been rendering valuable sacrifices in war against terror in Malakand Division and the entire nation was proud of their heroes.
He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government wanted to resolve all issues through talks and it had been successful in maintaining the writ of the government.
Pervaiz Khattak said PTI chief Imran Khan had fully supported the all parties conference decisions and KP government would cooperate with the Federation in this regard.
The province is ruled by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. Imran is a strong supporter of talks and has called for a ceasefire.
The government’s plan to hold talks with the Taliban and other militant groups has been criticised by many security analysts.
It is estimated that about 40,000 people have lost their lives in the last seven years.
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani has said that terrorists will not be allowed to take advantage of the peace process through political initiative.