Pak military turning tribesmen into war refugees against the Taliban

November 23rd, 2008 - 1:43 pm ICT by ANI  


Peshawar, Nov 23 (ANI): In the recent months, especially after September when the Pakistan military launched a hot pursuit policy against the Taliban militants, the Pakistani military has sought to turn the local tribesmens anger against the Taliban.

Over the past couple of months, the Pakistani military has raised tribal militias, known as lashkars, and given them license to kill militants in Bajaur and several other tribal zones. In addition to artillery and logistics support, they also would be given Chinese-made weapons, said an article in the Washington Times.

The three-month-old Pakistani army offensive to expel Taliban and al Qaeda fighters based in Bajaur Agency, a largely lawless tribal area that borders Afghanistan, has forced near two lakh Pakistani ethnic Pashtuns to flee their homes in tribal areas in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The Kacha Gari refugee camp, situated near Peshawar, looks like the aftermath of a severe earthquake. Until July, it was a home to 64,000 Afghan refugees. The government finally managed to repatriate most of them, and had emptied the area to make way for a development project.

Sitara Imran, the NWFP minister for social welfare, said: The people [at Kacha Gari] are the absolute poorest, with no place to go. They have no choice.

Those who have fled homes on Bajaur say that the Taliban were initially seen as defenders of Islam. Local sympathies for the Taliban surged after the October 2006 missile attack that killed 82 people at a madrassa in the town of Damadola.

But, relations soured when militants started to enforce their own strict laws and punishments. That included destroying the homes of those families who did not cooperate with them, inflicting physical abuse and occasional public executions.

Men who dared to shave their beards were dunked in cold water during the winter and hot water during the summer, said Nematullah Khan, 30, of Charmang. Music was banned. And, public schools judged by the fundamentalists to be corruptive tools of the government, were burned to the ground.

Amir Nawas (18), a young tribal, said that he had one exam left before graduation when his school was razed. All of his academic documents were lost, he added, leaving him unsure whether he”ll ever be able to finish his studies.
Sabir Jan (44), a dry-goods trader from Bajaur, abandoned his village with his wife and 11 children in late August after repeated anti-Taliban air strikes. He tried to go back once to check on their property and gather his family’’s belongings, but turned around, fearing for his life. The Taliban are bad people, but they know how to hide and fight, he said and added: We must wait a long time, I think. (ANI)

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