the-taleban

Taleban’s stranglehold brings fear to Swat BBC News, Mingora

 

 

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THE Swat chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has summoned some 47 notables along with their families to their Sharia courts within a week, or face “action”. What is in store for the summoned one would not hazard a guess except recalling recent media footage of the accused being lashed. But the “action” for the non-compliance according to the Taliban lexicon means death – beheading or by any other means in full public view.

 The Pakistani Taleban dispense their form of justice in much of the Swat region

 

Swat Continental hotel in the town of Mingora in north-west Pakistan opened in the mid-1990s when tourism in the region was at its peak.

A decade later, it is the only hotel in town which still receives guests, mainly television crews that come to cover the conflict.

For two years, the region once known for its river valleys and wooded mountains has been in the grip of a bloody insurgency by Islamic militants.

Pakistan has deployed a large number of army and paramilitary troops to try to contain them. Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting.

The past few weeks have been the worst.

 

Amid reports that the government plans to renew talks with the militants, there has been a sudden escalation in the conflict.

Almost all those wanted by the Taliban are said to be ‘on the run’ from Swat except for Afzal Khan Lala, the veteran ANP leader, who is still holding on at his billeted residence under army protection. The rest of the people including those who have fled the area should feel secure and resume their lives, says Muslim Khan who spoke to the media after the much-dreaded local TTP supremo, Maulana Fazlullah, had announced the list of the wanted on his FM radio.

 Children in Swat face bleak future  

War ravaged Pakistan is at the mercy of their own creation LeT. And Talibani terrorism. 

Insurgency in Swat is not of the type that is rife in tribal areas adjacent to the Pak-Afghan border: it is entirely home-grown, patterned more on the valley’s own historical movements than Afghanistan-centric militancy in the FATA. Whatever the truth in claims of foreign interference the fact cannot be denied that militancy in Swat draws sustenance largely from domestic politics and happenings, including the unfortunate Lal Masjid incident. In supporting this argument one may cite the case of Maulana Sufi, who had led a lashker into Afghanistan to help Afghan Taliban resistance and as a penalty suffered many years of incarceration, is a nobody in the hierarchy of Swat Taliban.

 More than a week ago, a Taleban deadline to ban female education came into force.

 

Information Minister Sherry Rehman is confident that girl schools in Swat will reopen on March 1.

 The militants also bombed a number of schools, including those of boys, casting a shadow over the future of education here.

The army is now moving into the remaining school buildings to protect them against possible Taleban attacks.

But parents fear that schools where the army is deployed will attract more deadly attacks by the militants, endangering the lives of their children.

 Swat is paralysed by a two-year-long armed insurgency by Taleban militants, who want to impose their brand of Islamic law in the district.

The militants have been able to put the security forces on the defensive by conducting a spate of suicide attacks on checkpoints, convoys and camps.

The forces have also provoked anger among people by causing “collateral damage” as they struggle to hit militants who mix freely with the civilian population.

This appears to have hurt the morale of the troops and has boosted that of the militants.

The militants now control most areas outside the main town of Mingora and have a strong intelligence network within it.

Destroying the government’s education infrastructure is one aspect of the Taleban’s campaign to uproot the existing system and replace it with their own.

 sher-afazal-khanSher Afzal Khan, the district head of the education department said, nearly 60,000 students have been affected.

 “In about 20 months or so, we have had 187 of our schools bombed out, of which 121 are girls’ schools,” Another 86 schools cannot be used because they are camps for the army or the Taleban, or they are in combat zones where children and staff cannot go, he says.

“Three months ago, the Taleban banned male medical students from attending practical lessons in the gynaecology ward and the labour room,” says a professor at Mingora’s Swat Medical College.

“We had to shift gynaecology classes to Mardan (another district in the north-west). There is now a proposal to shift the entire college to Mardan, along with its staff and equipment,” the professor says.

Taleban started sending representatives to keep a watch at the college hospital to ensure the ban was not being violated.

 The school’s revenue system was designed in such a way that fees raised from every five children of affluent families, called the “revenue students”, would pay for one orphaned child’s education.

In addition, Khpal Kor ran a number of commercial ventures such as a tent service and an IT college to raise salaries for its teaching, janitorial and kitchen staff, all of them well-paid by local standards.

“The tent service closed down due to absence of tourists, and almost all the students of the IT college have left as their families moved to other cities,” says Imran Khan, Khpal Kor’s coordination officer.

“We also have information that more than half of our 500 “revenue students” are unlikely to return to school after the vacations as their families, too, have moved away. This will put us under pressure to provide for more than 100 orphans.”

But many parents are still here and their children face an uncertain future.

 For the people of Mingora, all this has the makings of a timebomb that is ticking away and may blow up on or around 1 March when schools are scheduled to reopen.

This has had a visible effect on the morale of the city.

First, it was the appearance of beheaded bodies in various public places in Mingora, terrorising the local population.

According to reports, more than 30 bodies were found in the town during a two-week period in December and January.

Then came the Taleban’s edict banning education for girls.

Since the insurgency began the civilian population has increasingly become a target of both sides.

The militants are “cleansing” individuals suspected of holding “liberal” views.

Swat has been a stronghold of two secular parties – the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party. The militants are now bent upon weeding out their supporters.

As a result, many families have suffered attacks and beheadings by the militants.

 A year ago, an attack on a public library in the heart of Mingora, which the army had occupied, not only led to dozens of civilian casualties but also destroyed Swat Museum, which was located opposite the library.

The Japanese government had spent 46m yen ($500,000) in the late 1990s to renovate the museum, which contained relics from Swat’s Buddhist past.

The very rich and the very poor have already left Swat. The rich can afford to live in other cities of the country, and the poor would rather do the labour where it is safer.

The middle-income segment, with business stakes or government jobs, are stuck here because their means do not allow them to have the same lifestyle elsewhere.

 Despite being driven from power, a resurgent Taleban is at large in parts of Afghanistan and militants are still active in tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border. There is Taleban activity in districts outside Kandahar city like Panjwayi, Maywand, Zhari, Shah Walikot and Arghandab district.

The people who live where the Taleban live have to support them but this does not mean that people like them. The Taleban want food and accommodation from locals. If Nato forces attack or an air strike is called in, the Taleban escape but the local people suffer.

I have heard that the Taleban have small groups in the villages, they are not organised, not under one command and the villagers say they do not have one strategy.  Nobody likes the Taleban here. They took the people of the south by force.

A number of militant groups operate in Waziristan

These militants are not fighting for Islam or Pakistan. They want to harm Pakistan. This is a tribal area. In some ways this situation is not new for us. People have already suffered a lot. There is no government here but we live according to our own culture.

Everybody used to support the Taleban. They lost the support of the locals because of attacks on Pakistani civilians.

The real Taleban are local people. They just want  to fight anyone who harmed Islam. People were in favour of the Taleban in 2001. That Taleban is now dead. The new Taleban are different. They target civilians. They are not serving Islam.

 The Taleban in the north-west of Pakistan are seeking donations and new recruits. One way of doing this is by visiting mosques in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to persuade people to donate or to join their insurgency.

They appealed for donations and manpower for what they described as the “holy war” in Afghanistan. The people in the mosque contributed some coins towards their cause. But no one volunteered for the war. The people of this village were generally supportive of the Taleban’s movement in the neighbouring Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) which border Afghanistan.

Taleban’s campaign to destroy schools in the Fata and Swat regions has put them on the wrong side of a large number of boys and girls who attend a growing number of private institutions in the village as well as in a nearby town.

Reports of tribal militia fighting to evict the Taleban from some areas in the Bajaur and Kurram tribal regions – as well as in the Buner district of NWFP – have also affected their earlier view of the Taleban as a godly force.

Under pressure from the Pakistani offensives and the American missile strikes they are being forced further inland, resulting in the conflict ballooning and spreading to new areas.

The vehicles they have been targeting are trucks carrying supplies meant for Nato forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan army. The alliance’s supplies heading for the border were suspended while security was stepped up, and the convoys have only recently restarted.

Just a few kilometres from the tribal areas the BBC team, including cameraman Paul Francis and producer Peter Leng, discovered Nato equipment stacked up in guarded compounds. Almost 75% of all supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan come through Pakistan, the majority through Peshawar. That means that Nato’s most important supply route is under threat.

 The war is pushing the Taleban deeper into Pakistan. So Peshawar is now on edge. Westerners have fled, there are none to be seen.

In recent weeks there have been a spate of attacks targeting foreigners.

An American diplomat escaped an assassination attempt because her armoured car protected her, but a US aid worker was killed in a second attack.

The war will probably spread much further too. But just as Nato has found in Afghanistan, the Pakistani security forces are now discovering too that the Taleban is a foe that is hard to corner, even harder to defeat.         

 Pakistan is under intense international pressure to destroy the militants who established a safe haven and training camps after fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

That pressure has increased following the attacks in Mumbai, which India blames on a Pakistan-based group.

 

Many of the suicide bombers sent over the border to Afghanistan to attack coalition troops and Afghan civilians. In Afghan jails there are 48 would-be suicide bombers from Pakistan. This year there have been over 140 suicide attacks in Afghanistan – even the streets of the capital, Kabul, are no longer safe.

Abed, a young man in one jail, came from the Punjab.

He now repents of what he had done, telling me he was deceived by his Taleban handlers, who sent him to drive a massive truck bomb into what he was told was an army base full of foreigners – British and US troops.

But when he got near he realised the soldiers were speaking the local language.

He then decided not to kill any innocent Muslims. “So when I saw they were Muslims I surrendered myself.”

When his family in Pakistan came to know about his motive, They were horrified to discover what he had become – he had disappeared the year before and they thought he had gone to study at a madrassa, or religious school.  Abed had been recruited by the Taleban and his family were angry and upset.

“The big religious scholars have taken him,” said his mother, Naseem, “and we don’t know how they persuaded him to do jihad”.

Another young bomber, 17-year-old Khalil, who was also filled with hate against foreigners. He had been caught before he could detonate his suicide vest.

He refused to speak directly to the reporter, a western woman, but told to their interpreter that “the Muslims can never be friends with the infidel”.

Pakistan needs to root out militancy and terror not only from the tribal areas but from the cities, the religious schools or madrassas and the countryside.

“Yes, it will be a difficult and expensive war to fight,” said Rehman Malik, the president’s counter-terrorism advisor.

“But we have two options – either we hand Pakistan over to the Taleban or we fight back.”

The future security of all of us depends on Pakistan’s will and ability to fight back. 

Islamabad, Feb 2 (PTI) President Asif Ali Zardari today asked the US to share intelligence about militant activities in Pakistan’s tribal belt bordering Afghanistan instead of carrying out drone attacks that are counter productive. During a meeting with a visiting US Congressional delegation, Zardari said that the drone attacks are causing anti-American sentiments in the region.

Pakistan‘s parliament had also adopted a resolution opposing the drone attacks, he was quoted as saying by TV channels. Pakistan has protested several times against the US drone attacks, which it has described as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. Dozens of women and children have died in more than 35 drone attacks since last year.

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan have to improve security along the border to prevent the unchecked movement of militants to Pakistan from the Afghan side.

 

To save the image of Pakistan, Pakistani leaders speak a lot of lies to international communities. What they say do not match with their works. All they want money from international communities, as arms or loan. They have no power to save them from insurgency, counter insurgency, resurgence of terror outfits, and Taleban and Militants. Indulgence from international communities, such as UN and USA has been pampering Pakistan for long, for their own interest. They could have checked it long ago. The very unstable civilian and authoritarian, Military country.   An epicentre of terrorism. The most terror attacks around this globe have been trailed from this country. Yet we never found any action against this country.  

To India , Pakistan is a liar, No one believes its leaders and government authorities. It speaks all lies as lying is its character and special national strategy to survive from the wrath of its civilian. Lying has become their art !

 

Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7855198.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7778388.stm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By M Ilyas Khan and others

 

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