| Sunday, March 01, 2009
In what appears to be another act of sectarian violence in the Hangu area, which has seen over a year of conflict between tribes divided along the lines of sect, a van driver was killed and seven students abducted by armed men who ambushed the vehicle taking the pupils to their college. The incident has triggered angry public protests. It also demonstrates the failure to restore any kind of real order in the area. While tribal intervention last year brought a halt to conflict, the fact is that people across Orakzai Agency live in fear. One reason for this is the failure to back ceasefires with longer-term measures that can ensure continuing calm. These should include a ban, under relevant laws that exist on our statute books, on the incitement of hatred. In Hangu and elsewhere, the dissemination of literature promoting hatred was said to be commonplace. CDs, videos and other material also remained widely available. (The News)
The deliberate attempt to build tension is fanned by the wide circulation of such material. The use of the media by extremists to build support for their cause has been extensive and has proved very effective. An effort must begin to counter it, in places like Hangu, Parachinar and Dera Ismail Khan which have a long history of violence. Scores have died in these places as a result of clashes, targeted killings and terrorist attacks. Only when there is an end to such mayhem can we hope to stop incidents such as the one that took place in Hangu and to restore the capability of people to live in peace with those who hold views different to their own.