By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The kidnapping of two officials in Darel Valley has caused the general public to feel sandwiched between armed forces and terrorists in Diamer, Gilgit-Baltistan.
The law enforcement agencies, including Pakistan Army, have launched a massive manhunt in Darel and Tangir valleys, bringing life to a standstill. The operation was launched after an engineer, Essa Baig and a technician, Amjad Hussain, two civilian officials at special communication organisation (SCO), were abducted earlier in November, 2015. The SCO is managed by the army to provide communication facilities in G-B.
The officials were busy in fixing a fault at a tower in Darel Valley when at least 10 armed men stormed the tower and abducted them at gunpoint. They left a third man—a watchman—behind after tying him to the tower. The watchman later managed to reach a police station and reported the incident.
The demands were communicated to elected members of Diamer and relatives of the abductees last week by telephone.
A grand jirga from Darel and Tangir valleys was summoned to Chilas town earlier to convey a strong message for the rescue of the abducted officials.
The government has sincebeen mounting pressure on the jirga to help produce Baig and Hussain.
A massive search operation by police is under way in the valleys, where the force is raiding houses and arresting suspects. On the other hand, the terrorists have attacked police twice in Diamer.
“The government is asking us to ensure the militants surrender,” said Abdul Haleem, a leading cleric who heads the jirga in Darel.
“We will cooperate fully but they [militants] aren’t at our payroll to accept our orders,” Haleem told a jirga, attended by nearly 15,000 people in the valley on Monday.
The jirga was convened three days ahead of an expiry of an ultimatum given by Force Commander Major General Asim Munir to produce the kidnapped officials during his visit to the valley last Wednesday. G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman also accompanied the force commander.
“We have dealt effectively with people like Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, so we can deal with terrorists here too,” said the force commander, asking people to refrain from sheltering terrorists.
Abdul Wakeel, a minister in the G-B government, told The Express Tribune on Monday people in Diamer are with the army and were cooperating with them to rescue the abducted officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2015.