Friday, August 29, 2008

Islamabad: Children stage protest for peace in Parachinar

Govt asked to restore peace in Parachinar
Dawn News


RAWALPINDI, Aug 28: Children belonging to the restive Kurram Agency and now living in the federal capital staged a protest demonstration outside the Parliament House on Thursday, calling upon rulers to restore normalcy in Parachinar and play their role in stopping the ongoing bloodshed.

The children, majority of them in the age group of four, were wearing shrouds inscribed with slogans like ‘Uncle Zardari take notice of our plight’ and ‘Uncle Gilani treat us like you treat your own children’. They urged the government to open the roads that had been blocked by militants.

The otherwise peaceful and scenic Kurram Agency has been gripped by violence since November last year after some militants took their positions on Tal-Parachinar Road and started shooting passengers belonging to the opposite sect.

Since then, the road has been closed to all kinds of transport, which has resulted in serious shortage of essential items and life-saving drugs in the hospitals.

So far hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between rival tribes. Despite repeated calls for peace, there is no let up in the violence. The people from the area say that some hidden hands are involved in the unrest.

“We have not gone homes for our summer vacations. Why little children are not safe in Parachinar. Our religion teaches us that women and children should not be killed during war. But we are being slaughtered without discrimination,” the children were heard expressing their ordeals in front of the Parliament House. Senators Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, Kulsoom Parveen, Gulshan Saeed and Abbas Kumeli sympathised with the protesting children.

The protest of the little children is in fact a stark reminder to the authorities about the prevailing sense of insecurity in the country and many other issues that have engulfed the country particularly the tribal areas.

Ali Abbas, five, was one of the unfortunate children in the protest who had lost three older brothers in the ongoing clashes. His parents had to flee the area and hire a home in Islamabad to save the lives of their other sons.

“I would not be able to travel to Parachinar until the violence is over. They (militants) kill children equally. They are bad people. I am scared,” he told this reporter when he was asked why he was participating in the protest.

Haider Abbas, a parent, said his sister lost her life in the hospital mainly because there were no life-saving drugs due to the blockade of the main Tal-Parachinar Road by the militants.

“Both Shia and Sunni want peace in Parachinar but I wonder as to who is fuelling the fire when both the warring tribes are desperate for peace. I am sure that foreigners are involved in the tension,” he asserted.

The children urged the government to take mercy on the plight of the people of Parachinar and immediately open the roads blocked by militants to ensure availability of essential items during Ramazan.

Also see:
Coffin-clad children from Kurram stage sit-in

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