Taliban parade ‘criminals’
Daily Times, June 14, 2006
MIRANSHAH: Pakistani Taliban shaved the heads of seven alleged criminals, blackened their faces and paraded them in a bazaar on Wednesday in Miranshah, witnesses said. According to witnesses, a heavily armed Taliban contingent, consisting mainly of students from local madrassas, arrested the alleged criminals on Tuesday from Mir Ali town as part of their campaign to curb crime. “The Taliban captured men they said were involved in robberies and snatching vehicles,” a local official said. The militants drove the men to a market in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. “They shaved their heads and paraded them around with their faces painted black,” witness Sharif Khan said. After parading the alleged criminals in the market for half an hour the Taliban took them to their office to try them under Islamic law, witnesses added. Pakistan, a key US ally in the US-led ‘war on terror,’ signed a controversial peace deal with Taliban and tribal elders in North Waziristan in September. afp
Pro-Taliban militants taking over Tank
Daily Times, June 14, 2007
* JUI and militants have taken different paths, says tribal expert
TANK: Pro-Taliban militants have transformed the once-bustling community here into a city under siege.
Following militant raids on government offices, business and a school, Tank’s streets and bazaars are largely empty. An opposition politician and tribal elder believes that one-third of the residents have fled the city.
“The government has lost its writ in Tank,” said Sardar Ahmed Gul. “Every evening there is shooting and people cannot go out.”
The government’s crumbling authority over towns like Tank in the NWFP suggest that President General Pervez Musharraf is failing to rein in extremism as Islamic militants broaden their influence beyond the lawless regions that border Afghanistan. It also raises questions about the prospects of success for Washington’s anti-terrorism efforts in the region.
Observers blame the surge in violence in Tank on fighters filtering in from South Waziristan. On March 28, scores of militants attacked government buildings and businesses for several hours, killing one soldier and kidnapping a high school principal who tried to prevent them from recruiting students. He was freed, but the violence persisted and militants killed around 13 people last month.The army has also come under attack, with six soldiers being killed by three bombings this year.
Now, Tank is off-limits, even for its 150,000 residents and the fear is that it and other nearby districts are slipping into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
At a meeting of his National Security Council last week, Musharraf told authorities that “the militants must be taken head on, security of vital places be beefed up and activities of suspected elements be strictly monitored”. He pledged to provide the provincial government with more police, vehicles and equipment. But doubts exist about both his willingness and ability to control the militants, because he relies heavily on Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), a religious party, to mediate with militant groups in the region.
Samina Ahmed, a South Asia expert at the International Crisis Group think tank, views the JUI as a “political front” for militants. She said the party never criticises militant activities in Tank, instead blaming the government for “stirring up a hornets’ nest” by launching counter-terrorist operations in the area.
“There is a serious rift between these militants and the JUI,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on tribal affairs. “Some of them had links with the JUI in the past, then they were radicalised and they want the JUI to be more radical, too.”
Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali has accused Musharraf of deliberately allowing the violence to convince his foreign backers that he is needed to control Pakistan. Shopkeepers in Tank are merely worried about their safety. “No one wants put his life at risk in such an uncertain situation,” said Qibla Khan, who supports a family of 10 by selling fruit and vegetables. “We all are worried about our and our kids future. We cannot live in such a constant state of fear and worry.” ap