Govt urged to act on threats to ANP veteran Mian Iftikhar

* The ANP leader vows not to bow down to terrorists, says 'I did not stop even when my son was killed. I offered to forgive my son's killers if the militants quit violence and surrender before the state'

Awami National Party (ANP) leader and former provincial minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who has been receiving threat alerts from the security agencies for the past few weeks, has urged the federal government to act against militants. Talking to Daily Times, he said he was informed by the provincial Home Department as well as representatives of the security agencies that two suicide bombers had entered Pakistan to target him.

“I have been told that the level of threat is so high that I should minimise my movement and choose alternate routes while travelling,” he said, adding that it is odd that he is on the hit list of militants when he holds no position in the government and has little involvement in policymaking in the country.

Further, Iftikhar said that the notice about the threat alert he received from the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) was also sent to all high officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Inter-Services Intelligence director general Naveed Mukhtar, but there has been no response from the government over the threats.

The ANP leader said he has received seven threat warnings in the last few days. “I was also informed that an attacker who was involved in Haroon Bilour’s killing has been given the task to target me. The authorities have almost all the details about the identity of the potential attackers, but they have failed to make any arrests,” he said.

He reiterated that it is the state’s responsibility to provide security and protection. Further, he vowed not to ‘bow down to terrorists come what may’. “I did not stop [speaking out against terrorism] even when my son was killed. I offered to forgive my son’s killers if the militants quit violence and surrender before the state.”

In response to a question, he said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has not been very vocal against terrorism in the country as PM Imran Khan had been demanding offices for Taliban. “This government lacks the will to stop the sources of terrorism.”

Awami Workers Party (AWP) activist Ismat Shahjehan says government and law enforcement agencies are supposed to act in case of threat to a public figure instead of issuing alerts to the target. “The way Mian Iftikhar is being sent messages by high officials about possibility of attempt on his life is tantamount to harassment,” she told Daily Times.

Ismat maintianed that threat alerts to Mian Iftikhar were part of efforts by the powers-that-be to destablise the ANP in the wake of the recent Pashtun uprising. “Mian Iftikhar had always been with the victims of terrorism in KP and continued his politics against terrorism despite his son’s killing. The state should honour his resilience instead of intimidating him,” she said, adding that the government should immediately arrest the terrorists planning to attack him.

On Sunday, civil society activists in Nowshehra, KP, held a protest walk and urged the government to ensure Mian Iftikhar’s security. Local ANP leader Abbas Khan, while addressing the gathering, alleged that terrorists were after Iftikhar because he declared the recently-held elections as massively rigged.

Published in Daily Times, September 13th 2018.