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League faction blamed for volatility in Pakistan’s Hazara


Islamabad: With seven people losing their lives in violent protests in the Hazara area over renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, two political parties Monday accused a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League of fishing in troubled waters for political ends.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) was misleading the people of Hazara and indulging in scoring political points, Online news agency quoted Iqbal Zafar Jhagra of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as telling a private TV channel.

The PML-Q had ruled Pakistan from 2002 till it was ousted in the 2008 general elections by the Pakistan Peoples Party of President Asif Ali Zardari and the PML-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The PML-N had subsequently walked out after differences over the governance agenda that had been decided on before the polls.

Bushra Gohar of the Awami National Party (ANP) that rules the province urged the PML-Q leadership to show responsibility and maturity as the name was changed after developing consensus among the political parties.

At the same time, she admitted that all parties except the PML-Q had agreed on the name of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. She also charged “some elements” of the party with “disturbing the situation”.

Marvi Memon of the PML-Q contested the charges, saying that the provincial government had ignored the feelings of the people and that her party was not involved in the disturbances.

“The issue was mishandled as the police used force against the protesters,” she added.

Seven people were killed and nearly 100 wounded in Abbotabad city as protests against renaming the province turned violent on Monday, police and eyewitnesses said.

The protesters, who are also demanding the creation of a separate province of Hazara, also set the Cantonment Police Station on fire, badly damaging the building.

Despite prohibitory orders banning the gathering of five or more people being in force, infuriated workers of the Tehrik-e-Sooba Hazara or Hazara Province Movement came out on the streets of Abbotabad and clashed with the police, who fired teargas shells and resorted to baton charges.

According to hospital sources, several of the injured were brought there, of whom seven critically hurt people died.

The protesters also held black flags and raised slogans against the government.

Workers of different political parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazlur and common people were among the protesters.

All main and small business hubs were closed and the roads presented a deserted look. Educational institutions were also closed.

Abbotabad is the third largest city in the province after capital Peshawar and Manshera.

In Manshera too, student organizations blocked an arterial road while staging a protest demonstration.

Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, last week passed a constitutional amendment that stripped the president of his sweeping powers and also renamed NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.