PoK residents observe strike against militants
Islamabad: Residents of Neelum Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir observed a strike to protest the "dangerous activities" of banned militant groups after the failure of talks with authorities to rein in the rebels, according to a media report on Monday.
Businesses and shops in Neelum Valley mostly remained closed yesterday due to the strike against the activities of outlawed militant groups, the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
The strike was observed after talks between local residents and an official team "failed to take any decision" on the activities of the militants.
Former minister Mufti Mansoor-ur-Rehman, Neelum Bar Association president Mir Gohar Rehman and Mir Nazir Danish briefed the official team comprising Muzaffarabad Commissioner Sardar Zafar Khan and DIG Khalid Mahmood Chauhan about the "looming threat to the valley's peace in the wake of dangerous activities of proscribed militant groups".
The talks were held in a government guesthouse at Athmuqam, 80 km northeast of PoK capital Muzaffarabad, after a protest march on Friday.
During the march, residents called for action on the activities of the militants and said they were "feeling insecure after scattered rocket attacks on Indian posts by some unknown people".
The local residents told the official team that the "activities of the banned outfits have caused serious concern from one end of the valley to the other" and that the people would "not allow anyone to use our territory for terrorist activities against anyone".
Several militant groups are active in PoK, including the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The LeT i believed to have set up several new training camps in the region over the past few years.
Neelum Valley straddles the Line of Control, which witnessed regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Indian and Pakistani troops until both sides agreed on a ceasefire on November 26, 2003. Most of causalities in the skirmishes were civilians.
The local residents told the officials that they had "suffered the worst physical and material losses" in the days of skirmishes along the LoC and "could not afford its recurrence in the aftermath of any misadventure".
The residents demanded that law enforcement agencies should immediately expel from the Neelum Valley all elements "who were bent upon ruining its peace and tranquillity for vested interests", sources told the Dawn.
The official team asked the residents to end their protest and assured them that their demands would be presented to the high-ups.
However, Syed Naseer Kazmi, a member of the Neelum Bar Association, told reporters that the talks had failed and the protest against the outlawed militant groups would continue.
"We will stage a complete wheel-jam strike in the valley on August 9," he said.
There was no official word on the developments.