Malakand at loggerheads with govt over customs act

MINGORA –Protest against extension of Customs Act 1969 to Malakand division continued on second consecutive day as traders backed by political parties observed a strike on Tuesday across the division.

According to the sources, thousands of people gathered at Nishatchowk to protest against the government’s decision to extend the customs law to their region. The shutter down strike was called by the Swat Traders Federation.

On the occasion, a multi-party conference was also held where representatives of political parties, transporters association, bar association, private school management association, bargain association, doctors association, industries association and marble factories association, and people from other walks of life showed up in large numbers.

According to reports, the speakers rejected the extension of the act to Malakand division and said that the local residents would never allow the provincial and federal governments to collect any sort of tax in the region.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) leader Maulana Rahat Hussain said that in 1969, Malakand division was beautiful and resourceful states but the incumbent government had tried to multiply the misery of local residents by extending the customs law to Malakand.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Shamsher Ali Khan said that the local residents were opposed to any taxation in the region and would resist the enforcement of the act.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Dr Khalid Mahmood said that on one hand, the entire nation acknowledged the sacrifices of Swat’s people but on the other, the government was stressing them out by imposing taxes.“All the elected representatives from Malakand must boycott assemblies and tender resignations against the imposition of the Customs Act,” he said.

Qaumi Watan Party leader Fazal Rehman Nono said that the people of Swat stood united for their rights and would never accept the customs law in the region. Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) and District Development Advisory Committee(DDAC) Chairman Fazal Hakim said that he would lead the movement to protect the rights of Swat people.

Throughout the day, all major markets and bazaars in all seven tehsils of Swat district including Mingora remained closed against the extension of the act to Malakand division.

A shutter-down strike was also observedIn Shangla district. The markets in Shangla, Alpuri, Puran, Shapoor, Puran, Chakesar, Martung, Dandai, Karora, Dehrai and Bely Baba areas remained closed throughout the day. All private schools also remained closed, while the district bar association boycotted the court proceedings.

The anti-customs law protests were also in reported in Besham, Alpuri, Puran, Chakesar, Karora and Shapoor.In Upper Dir, lawyers boycotted the court proceedings and said that they would continue pressuring the government to withdraw order on the Malakand division customs law.


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