'Education, employment and equality imperative for peace in FATA & KP'

PESHAWAR: More than 180 young people including 70 girls from all agencies/frontier regions of Federally Administered Tribal Areas and 15 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were brought together in the FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Youth Forum organized by Chanan Development Association (CDA) a national youth led organization in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The objective of the forum is to raise the issues of the young people living in FATA & KP and present the solutions as per the desires of the indigenous people. The participants not only highlighted the issues but also put forth the solutions to these issues.

Read more: 'Education, employment and equality imperative for peace in FATA & KP'

Some inmates escape, army called in Militants storm jail in D.I. Khan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: July 29: Militants stormed one of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s oldest and largest central jails in the city close to midnight on Monday with rockets and heavy weapons and unconfirmed reports said they succeeded in breaking the prison wall and helping some of their jailed colleagues escape.

The British-era central prison located close to Dawn`s district correspondent`s office has the capacity to house thousands of inmates and had around 250 militants affiliated to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Militants attacked the prison with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, leading to a series of deafening sounds of bomb explosions and staccato of gunfire.

There were between 30 and 40 explosions.

It was not immediately clear if suicide bombers were also involved in the attack. But the explosions continued for some time amid reports that jail guards did return fire to protect the prison.

A senior security official told Dawn in Peshawar on phone from Dera Ismail Khan that militants had attacked the prison and that the military and police had been called in to secure the area.

The security official quoting eye witnesses said that around 40 militants had attacked the prison located in the middle of the city in a thickly-populated area. He said witnesses claimed having seen some prisoners escape. `Firing is continuing,` the official said. `Yes, some prisoners have escaped,` he added.

`But we wouldn`t know the exact number unless we secure the prison and do a head-count.

Unconfirmed reports said the military was trying to get closer to the prison and secure it but it was not clear if they had managed to get inside the prison compound.

The attack came a day after some inmates inside the prison snatched rifles from guards and escaped. The district police officer later acknowledged the escape but claimed that all 10 of those who had escaped had been recaptured.

Dera Ismail Khan sits close to the restive South Waziristan tribal region bifurcated by the semi-autonomous Frontier Region Jandola.

This is the second large-scale attack by militants on central jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Militants had attacked central prison in neighbouring Bannu district in April last year, freeing hundreds of inmates, including Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistan Air Force official and mastermind behind the assassination attempt on former president Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Adnan has since joined the TTP and is believed to be in North Waziristan heading a group called Ansarul Aseer.

He had released a video early this year, pledging to free all militants held in Pakistani prisons and made target jail officials for their `inhuman` treatment.

Shakil Afridi's 33 years jail overturned

PESHAWAR/ Dawn Report: A judicial official on Thursday overturned the 33-year jail sentence of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA track down former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, was imprisoned for 33 years on charges of colluding with the banned militant outfit Lashkar-i-Islam.—File Photo

Afridi was sentenced in May last year on charges of colluding with banned militant outfit Lashkar-i-Islam.

Judicial official Commissioner Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ruled that the previous judge in the case exceeded his authority when handing down last year’s sentence and ordered a new trial.

“The Commissioner of Peshawar has set aside the decision of the Political Agent of Khyber agency and ordered the retrial,” said Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer for Dr Afridi. “The case has been resent to the Political Agent of Khyber agency who earlier awarded 33 years imprisonment to Shakil Afridi,” he added.

“The assistant political agent played the role of a magistrate for which he was not authorised,” said the written judgment.

A political agent and his assistant are representatives of the government in the semi-autonomous tribal areas, not governed by the country's judicial system but a separate set of laws British-era laws called the Federal Crimes Regulation (FCR).

Samiullah Afridi said he argued that the Assistant Political Agent was not authorised to pass such a long sentence, no proper trial was held and his client was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

Afridi was not present in the court during his trial and could not argue in his own defence, officials said after his conviction. Under the tribal system, he would not have had access to a lawyer.

The appeal also said Afridi had “no association” with Lashkar-e-Islam, according to a copy obtained by news agency AFP.

The appeal, filed on June 1, 2012, said Afridi was kidnapped by Lashkar-e-Islam in 2008 and ordered to pay one million rupees ($10,660).

The tribal court had said that Afridi paid two million rupees to the group and helped to provide medical assistance to militant commanders in Khyber.

The militants have denied any links to Afridi, saying they fined him for overcharging patients, and have threatened to kill him.

Afridi had helped the CIA by running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad a month before the US forces raid on a compound in Abbotabad that killed Osama bin Laden. Then-US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Afridi had worked for US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify bin Laden’s presence.

He was picked up by Pakistani intelligence agents from near Peshawar, two weeks after the raid.

He was sentenced on May 23, 2012 to 33 years in prison and fined Rs320,000 on charges of colluding with Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) and its chief, Mangal Bagh. However, the tribal court had not entertained evidence relating to Shakil Afridi’s involvement with the CIA, citing lack of jurisdiction.

Angry US lawmakers saw the sentence as retaliation for his role in bin Laden's capture, and last year threatened to freeze millions of dollars in vital aid to Islamabad.

Afridi remains in custody and is believed to be held under high security at the Peshawar central jail.

Click here to read a copy of the five-page court document originally issued in May 2012 by the Assistant Political Agent in Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency.

One polio case confirmed from 14 samples

PESHAWAR/ Express Tribune:  The National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad on Wednesday confirmed one polio case of the 14 suspected cases reported from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and Frontier Region (FR) Bannu a day earlier.

According to a report issued by NIH, the virus was found in the stool sample of 18-month-old Najibul Haq, a resident of Hindi Khel village in FR Bannu.

“Accessing FR Bannu is difficult for polio vaccination teams due to the ‘ban’ imposed in neighbouring NWA in June 2012,” said a relevant official while referring to restrictions imposed by Taliban leaders. This is the third polio case reported from Bannu in 2013.

The government’s efforts to eliminate the crippling disease has borne little fruit as polio cases continue to surface in the tribal belt, especially in areas where vaccination teams are not allowed to enter.

Around 25 cases of the virus have been reported in the country so far this year, of which 15 have been from the tribal areas alone.

FR DI Khan officials asked to submit details of schemes

DERA ISMAIL KHAN/ The News: The deputy commissioner (DC) Sunday asked the officials of various departments in Frontier Region (FR) Dera Ismail Khan to submit details of the ongoing uplift schemes in the area.

A meeting in connection with the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for 2013-14 was held at the office of DC and was attended by officials of various departments of the FR DI Khan, including Agency Education Officer Qadeem Khan Marwat, Agency Surgeon Dr Noor Sultan, officials of Communication and Services, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and Agriculture and Livestock.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner and Political Agent FR DI Khan, Aamir Khattak asked the officials to ensure submission of details of the development projects by Monday (today).

He urged the agency surgeon to ensure the availability of vaccination and injection meant for the victims of snake-bite at the hospitals. He directed the officials of the communication and services and PHED departments to submit the actual facts and figures about the ongoing schemes in the area.

He said the government planned to make Drazinda, headquarters of FR DI Khan, as a model city, besides bringing underdeveloped areas in FR DI Khan on par with other areas and said that negligence would not be tolerated.

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