Thousands protest increased violence in Pakistan’s Swat Valley


Thousands of people have rallied in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to protest against growing insecurity following the killing of a local school bus driver who was shot by an unknown assailant on Monday.

Chanting slogans against the increasing number of killings in the area, protesters took to the streets on Tuesday afternoon in Nishat Chowk, demanding that the government do more to ensure the safety of residents there.

Ahmed Shah, spokesperson for Swat Qaumi Jirga, a representative body of local residents, said more than 15,000 people had attended the protest – the sixth in the past two months.

“We held one protest last week but the one today is among the largest demonstrations ever in Swat,” he told Al Jazeera.

Fawad Khan, an activist with Swat Olasi Pasoon (Swat People’s Movement), who was at Tuesday’s protest, told Al Jazeera that there had been a clear increase in violent incidents in the region.

“We are demanding the government control the terrorist elements who are back and spreading terror here,” he said. “We must be given protection, which is our constitutional right.”

According to police officials, the latest incident of violence took place in Mingora on Monday morning when the school bus driver was shot dead by a man riding a motorcycle.

Hussain Ahmed, 33, was driving two young students, one of whom was wounded and taken to hospital before being discharged.

Police officials told Al Jazeera they have ruled out “terrorism” since this was a targeted attack on an individual, but they are continuing to investigate. They added that there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack so far.

Monday’s attack came a day after the 10th anniversary of the shooting of Malala Yousafzai by the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP or Pakistan Taliban) when she was a schoolgirl.

Mohsin Dawar, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, condemned the latest attack and said this should be a wake-up call for the state.