PESHAWAR - The nascent PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, which lost a third lawmaker to terrorism on Eid day, has urged the federal government to fast track the peace talks with the militants and decided to establish an anti-terrorism task force to fight out the menace in this most terror-stricken part of the country.
The national flag atop the government buildings in the province flew at half mast for the second day on Friday to mourn the death of Law Minister Israrullah Khan Gandapur and others in a suicide attack in Kulachi tehsil on Wednesday. The provincial government had announced three-day mourning.
Dera Ismail Khan Police on Friday registered an FIR against unidentified terrorists for carrying out the suicide attack which killed the law minister and seven others, besides injuring 25 people. The PTI leader was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard in Kulachi Thursday.
KPK Chief Minister Pervez Khattak presided over a special cabinet meeting on Friday that termed the suicide attack on minister Israrullah Gandapur a conspiracy to sabotage the peace process initiated by government.
It called upon the federal government to pace up the talks process as KPK is facing the brunt of terrorist attacks. It asked the centre to accelerate the peace process for durable peace, asking it to immediately initiate the dialogue instead of wasting time in sifting out the pro-talks from those averse to peace. The talk process by itself would expose the anti-peace elements, it argued.
The provincial government noted that it could not afford leaving the people at the mercy of terrorists and therefore it decided to immediately take on those militant elements who were trying to subvert the dialogue with the Taliban by perpetrating terrorism at the behest of ‘foreign powers’. The cabinet showed firm commitment to deal with an iron hand with those who were putting hurdles in the sincere efforts of restoring peace.
The provincial cabinet also approved establishment of an anti-terrorism task force which would be led by the Inspector General of Police and comprise members of all intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including police, Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary.
The cabinet also conceded to increasing the numerical strength of police force and demanded the federal government to repatriate the Frontier Constabulary platoons back to the province so they could be deployed at sensitive places in the province and at the border between settled and tribal areas. The cabinet directed the IGP to redeploy the elite force at public places. It also directed to install cameras at all check-posts throughout the province for preventing acts of terrorism and keeping a vigil on performance of police and security forces.
The cabinet decided to restrict the movement of Afghan refugees in the cities and suburbs and deport those found to be involved in any criminal activity. The cabinet also ordered property dealers to submit in weeks the data of the tenants living in rented houses so as to detect terrorists and criminal elements.
CM Khattak visited Dera Ismail Khan to express sympathies and solidarity with victims' families. He directed foolproof security for provincial ministers and advisers. Israrullah Gandapur was meeting constituents in his home village of Kulachi when the bomber struck. KPK Health Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said the bomber managed to break into the area despite "very tight security". The attack involved 8-10 kgs of locally made explosives, a bomb disposal expert said. "We have recovered two legs of the bomber," he added.
The attack was later claimed by little-known militant group Ansarul Mujahideen in a phone call to AFP. "It was revenge for the martyrdom of some of our mujahideen," Abu Baseer, a spokesman for the group said.
Gandapur won his seat as an independent but later he joined PTI. He is now the third lawmaker from KPK to have been killed following the elections on May 11. Farid Khan and Imran Khan Mohmand, killed in separate attacks in June, were also members of the PTI.