Hundreds of residents of Pakistan’s northwestern Bannu district have protested for a 18th consecutive day demanding the government to get rid of militants and restore security in the area.
The members of a Pashtun clan in western Pakistan -- Jani Khel -- launched the sit-in in protest of the killing of a tribal elder, Malik Naseeb Khan, who was shot dead late on May 30.
They refuse to bury the dead body and threaten to march on Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, if their demands are not met.
Protest leader Gul Alam Wazir told RFE/RL on June 17 that the transport minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where Bannu is located, visited the protesters’ camp on June 17 and promised that the government will take practical steps within two days to fulfil their demands.
Khan was a leading member of the committee that negotiated an agreement with the government in March following a weeklong protest in which Bannu residents refused to bury the bodies of four slain teenagers.
“If our demands are not met by Sunday (June 20), we will march toward Islamabad,” Wazir told RFE/RL.
“We will dig up the graves of the four teenagers along with the corpse of Malik Naseeb Khan and march toward Islamabad.”
The region is rife with Taliban militants and other armed groups years after the Pakistani military claimed victory in the war on terrorism in the country’s northwest.
Requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, a senior security official told RFE/RL that security forces are “waiting for an opportune time” for launching an offensive against militants in the area, alluding to the intense summer heat when daytime temperature frequently surpass 45 degrees Celsius.
“If such protests continue, our only option will be to launch a final offensive against the militants,” the official said.