ANI Photo | Pakistan: Tribesmen threaten to stop construction of customs terminal at Torkham border

The Khuga Khel tribe in the Landi Kotal region of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has threatened to stop the construction of a Customs terminal at the Torkham border if their reservations over excess land acquisition were not considered, Dawn reported.
Scores of Tribesmen held a protest at the Bacha Khan Chowk on Sunday and raised slogans against the National Logistic Cell (NLC) for allegedly occupying their collective land in excess to the land acquisition agreement they had reached with the Federal Board of Revenue, as per the news report.
Addressing the protesters, Khuga Khel elders Mufti Ejaz, Qari Nazeem Gul, Mirajuddin, Malak Lutfullah, Kalimullah, Haji Ilyas and others alleged that hundreds of kanals of land were unlawfully occupied by the National Logistic Cell (NLC) despite repeated protests.
Khuga Khel elders said their tribe was not against the construction of the terminal. However, they stressed that a proper legal procedure for land acquisition and due compensation for the owners should be followed, according to the Dawn report.
They claimed that NLC adopted a “divide and rule” policy by talking to a group of “so-called” Khuga Khel elders to reach an agreement as per their liking while ignoring the actual representatives and depriving them of their ownership rights.

The tribal elders said that the NLC could not befool them any more. The tribal elders threatened to stop the construction if the authorities do not give a positive response by March 16.
According to them, the livelihood of hundreds of locals was related to the business activities at the Torkham border. They claimed that some government departments were depriving them of their legitimate earnings in the name of the new border policy, as per the Dawn report.

They alleged that thousands of local labourers and porters were rendered jobless due to the implementation of a visa policy which they stressed was against the legitimate easement rights of the local tribes living on both sides of the border. The terminal was conceived in 2003, however, the construction did not begin until 2015 due to the security situation in the region.
In recent years, the construction has led to a row over the acquisition of land, owned by Khuga Khel, a sub-tribe of Landi Kotal. In the past few years, the protesting tribesmen on several instances have forcibly stopped the construction work on the terminal, as per the news report.

The tribesmen have said that they are the collective owners of the 300-kanal acquired for the terminal’s construction through a written agreement. They further said that the NLC allegedly ‘grabbed’ more land without any prior intimation to the owners. (ANI)

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