Reign of Mangal Bagh ends


Situationer – A symbol of terror in Khyber Agency, Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh has finally lost influence in the area and slipped into the border regions of Afghanistan for survival. Across the border in Afghanistan, Mangal has sought shelter with an alleged drug trafficker of the Shinwari tribe.
In recent history of Khyber Agency, Mangal became the third militant chief to exercise high influence, but has now finally witnessed his collapse. Emerging as a militant leader around six years ago, Mangal and his LI not only made the state’s writ cripple across the Bara region, but also gave sleepless nights to officials responsible for maintaining law and order in Peshawar.
Coming hard on Pir Saifur Rehman, a religious figure from the Brelvi school of thought, Mangal had also made an attempt to introduce his own doctrine of Islamic injunctions. He established a self-styled Islamic court, which ordered execution of scores of people. Mangal forced the leading politico-business figures of Bara to pay him millions of rupees as extortion and even forced all contesting candidates for a National Assembly seat to explain their manifesto before the audience in his presence and fixed Rs 50,000 as fee for it. He also forced one of the elected MPs to pay Rs 10 million as fine for his failure to get the military action against militants in Bara stopped.
Besides forcing tribal elders and political figures, Mangal also terrorised the media, as he received Rs 100,000 from a correspondent on charges of publishing a news item against his group. Apart from Bara, Mangal’s gun totting loyalists also made life hard for the people and administration of Peshawar. Mangal has more than two dozen FIRs registered in his name and his group was notorious for abductions for ransom. His acts forced a number of leading industrialists to leave Peshawar and move their investments to Karachi or Lahore.
When Mangal’s activities got out of hand, the government started military action against the LI and other militant groups around two years ago. Although Mangal was forced to leave Bara and seek shelter in Tirrah Valley, his terror reigned in the area nevertheless. A couple of months ago, Mangal Bagh started abducting and assassinating religious figures. Amongst them were Maulana Mustamin from Qamarkhel, former Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Abdul Wadood Afridi from Sipah and Maulana Hasham from Zakhakhel. Afridi tribesmen remained mum over the kidnappings and assassinations of both Mustamin and Wadood, but tribesmen from Zakhakhel clan of Afridi tribe showed sever resentment over the assassination of Maulana Hasham.
And within weeks, Zakhakhel tribesmen not only succeeded in isolating Mangal, but even forced him to leave the area. The end Mangal’s reign is likely to have a positive impact across Bara, but the maximum responsibility for people’s security still rests with the civil and military administration.