Schools reopen in Darra with Taliban’s consent
The political administration has reopened 19 schools in Darra Adamkhel after a reported assurance by Taliban that they will not attack educational institutions of girls.
Sources said that during clandestine talks, Taliban assured tribal elders that they would not attack schools for girls in the region. However, Frontier Region of Koat Assistant Political Agent Syed Gul Jamal, when contacted neither confirmed nor denied the promise made by Taliban.
He said that he had learnt about secret talks between Taliban and tribal elders on the issue but no representative of the government was involved in the negotiations. “I have not met the tribesmen, who were involved in the talks,” he added.
The schools and colleges for girls and women teachers in Darra Adamkhel bore the brunt of war against terrorism. Sources said that students and teachers would be told to start visiting their institutions after the development.
On the other hand government has not reconstructed more than 50 girl schools, destroyed by militants during the past five years. However, 70 per cent shops and factories in the gun manufacturing town have been reop ened and business is thriving again.
Mr Jamal said that most of the arm manufacturers and workers, belonging to Punjab, started returning and compromised with the situation. “No one among them has ever been harassed or kidnapped by Taliban but they left the area in 2006-2007 owing to surge in the activities of militants,” he added.
The official said that the exact number of Taliban in Darra Adamkhel was not known, however, hundreds of them had been killed and security forces established checkposts at the surrounding hills.
He said that the entire semi-autonomous area of Kohat including Darra Adamkhel was under the control of armed forces. The political administration has no writ in the area.
He said that a few years ago nobody could even think to travel through Kohat tunnel or enter Darra Adamkhel but now conditions were gradually improving as Indus Highway was opened for 24 hours to traffic. “It is a big achievement of security forces,” he said.
Mr Jamal admitted that proclaimed offenders were still present in the area and they were kidnapping people and robbing travellers.
He also confirmed that unidentified persons blew up the empty house of a close relative of Tariq Afridi, the Taliban commander in Darra Adamkhel and Khyber Agency.
Independent sources, however, said that unidentified persons on Sunday night destroyed the abandoned houses of Abid Khan Afridi and Sher Khan Afridi in Shni Kallay area. Both the men were stated to be associates of Tariq Afridi.
The official said that most of the coalmines in the area were still closed as tribesmen were reluctant to go to their mountains and dig out coal owing to presence of militants.
He said that khasadars were performing their duties in all areas of Darra except Tor Chappar. However, local tribesmen denied the claim.
They said that khasadars had disappeared after Taliban threatened them to quit government jobs.
Almost all the major checkposts in Darra had been destroyed by Taliban during the last many years. “The remaining checkposts are also empty and no one mans them,” tribesmen said.
Shafarish Khan, a tribal elder, said that government asked them to form lashkar against Taliban but they refused. “The government asks us not to leave the area but its own officials are not present in their offices and checkposts. Even senior officers cannot cross Indus Highway and Kohat tunnel without proper security of army,” he added.
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