Taliban Times

Adil Najam

The Taliban onslaught against Pakistan continues relentlessly. The feeling of a polity unraveling before our eyes deepens.

Analyses boggle the mind because just keeping up with the news is hard enough. So, here are excerpts from just a few of recent news reports that are worth a read.

Buner falls into the hands of Swat Taliban
(Dawn, April 23, 2009)

Taliban militants from Swat took control of Buner on Tuesday and started patrolling bazaars, villages and towns in the district. The militants, who had sneaked into Gokand valley of Buner on April 4, were reported to have been on a looting spree for the past five days. They have robbed government and NGO offices of vehicles, computers, printers, generators, edible oil containers, and food and nutrition packets.

The Taliban have extended their control to almost all tehsils of the district and law-enforcement personnel remained confined to police stations and camps. The Taliban, equipped with advanced weapons, were reported to be advancing towards border areas of Swabi, Malakand and Mardan, the hometown of NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti.

The militants have started digging trenches and setting up bunkers on heights in strategic towns of Gadezi, Salarzai, Osherai and other tehsils. After occupying the Buner district and setting up their headquarters in the bungalow of businessman Syed Ahmed Khan (alias Fateh Khan) in Sultanwas, the militants started patrolling the streets and roads with no signs of law-enforcement personnel. Led by Fateh Mohammad, the militants were asking local people, particularly youngsters, to join them in their campaign to enforce Sharia. They have established checkposts on roads and are searching all passing vehicles. They have virtually established their writ in Buner region, once a stronghold of the Awami National Party.

A Taliban commander said they would set up strict Islamic sharia courts in Buner as they have already done in Swat, but would not interfere with police work. 'The Taliban who have arrived from Swat have increased patrolling, banned music in public transport and rampaged (through the) offices of NGOs and taken their vehicles,' local government official Rashid Khan said. 'We will soon establish our radio station. Our Qazis (Islamic judges) will also start holding courts in Buner soon,' Taliban commander Mohammad Khalil told AFP. 'People in their dozens have come to invite us' to extend sharia. 'The Taliban will leave Buner after enforcement of Islamic justice system,' he said.

However, several residents said they felt 'scared' and planned to leave the Buner area, fearing similar violence to that in Swat. On Tuesday, armed groups entered the Rural Health Centre at Jure in Salarzai area and took away a Land-Cruiser being used by the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI), Buner. On April 17, they raided a basic health unit in tehsil Chamla and looted 480 cans of edible oil. They took away from the house of a lady health visitor a large number of food and nutrition packets supplied by USAID and sewing machines from an Action Aid-sponsored vocational centre in the Korea village of tehsil Chamla. On April 18, they looted a huge quantity of medicine from a health facility at the Afghan refugee camp in Koga in the same tehsil and 640 cans of edible oil from a godown of the World Food Programme in Nawagai.

Buner judges stop presiding over courts
(The News, April 23, 2009)

Providing credence to the apprehensions of some political parties and civil society organisations, the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) on Wednesday said that Ulema would be the Qazis (judges) of the Darul Qaza and only they would have administrative control over the Malakand judiciary. Meanwhile, Sufi Muhammad told a delegation that those who called the Supreme Court and high courts "Sharai" were rebels against Islam. The organisation categorically said they would not accept superior courts' judges as Qazis of the Darul Qaza. Interestingly, the TNSM has recommended the names of three Ulema to the government for Qazis of the Darul Qaza…

The TNSM spokesman, while claiming not to have gone through the copy of The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (NAR) yet, said they would not accept the Darul-Darul Qaza, but the Darul Qaza would be the final court… Amir Izzat said that all candidates for the posts of Qazis would be interviewed, appointed or rejected by Maulana Sufi Muhammad. "Sufi Muhammad will determine their Sharai knowledge and if he finds any candidate below the standard, he will not be appointed," he said. Regarding the transfer of Qazis, he said once a Qazi was appointed in Malakand division, he could not be transferred outside the division. He added that transfer of judge from the rest of Pakistan to the Malakand division would also not be accepted.

It was learnt that judges in the Taliban-controlled Buner district stopped working and shifted the official record. Apparently, the decision was taken after growing control and strength of Taliban in the district. The judges were asked by PHC, it was learnt, not to attend the courts till May 2.

Sufi might have been a little 'Kafir' too: Munawar
(The News, April 23, 2009)

Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Syed Munawar Hassan has said that Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad had once contested elections of local councillor and won it and therefore might have been a little 'Kafir' (infidel) too. Talking to newsmen in Lahore after meeting a delegation of Khaksar Tehrik led by Hameeduddin Al-Mashriqi, he said that the 1973 Constitution was a consensus document having the support of all ulema of the country. Therefore, Sufi Muhammad should consult the ulema and elders before passing edicts.

Swat Taliban promote 'love marriages'
(The News, April 19, 2009)

The Taliban of Swat have set up a bureau named 'Shuba-e-Aroosat' for arranging love marriages of couples who are denied the marriage of choice by their families for one reason or the other, reports BBC Urdu Service. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the marriage bureau headed by Taliban Commander Abu Ammad arranged 11 'love marriages' in the last nine days while 300 girls and boys are waiting for their turn. "The love marriage aspirants contact the bureau on a fixed telephone number. The Taliban collect their particulars and then contact their familites to arrange these choice marriages," he said, adding that Islam allows every adult to get marry according to his/her own choice. He said, "Most of the girls, or their families, who contacted us wish to marry 'militant' Taliban." Analysts say the Taliban are paving the way for themselves to marry the girls of their choice. It is really strange that they flog the couples on one hand for moving together while on the other hand allow young couples to marry according to their choice. Also the question arises how is it possible for a boy or girl to propose while they have not seen each other, reports BBC Urdu Service.


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