Taliban’s rule expands after peace pact with Pak: report

Taliban’s rule expands after peace pact with Pak: report
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First Published: Fri, Mar 06 2009. 04 30 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Mar 06 2009. 04 30 PM IST
New York: An agreement signed by the Pakistani Army with Taliban seems to have allowed the militant group free rein to expand their harsh religious rule rather than establishing peace, a media report said on Friday.
Just days after the truce was signed, a member of a prominent anti-Taliban family returned to his mountain village, having received assurances from the government that it was safe. He was promptly kidnapped by the Taliban, tortured and murdered, The New York Times reported.
The militants then erected roadblocks to search cars for any relatives who dared travel there for his funeral. None did, the paper said.
This week, two Pakistani soldiers who were part of a convoy escorting a water tanker were shot and killed because they failed to inform the Taliban in advance of their movements.
The NWFP government, the report said, signed an accord with the local Taliban leader that imposes Islamic law or Sharia in the area and institutes a host of new regulations, including a ban on music. Local residents are skeptical that girls’ schools will be allowed to reopen, it adds.
Previous accords with the militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the Times noted, have effectively created mini-states with sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda and militants.
The Pakistani government argued that the truce in Swat would free up the Pakistani Army, reduce civilian suffering and satisfy popular dissatisfaction with the local judiciary.
Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled in the past six months to camps in surrounding districts or to relatives’ homes are staying put, unsure what they would encounter if they dared to return, the paper said.
North-West Frontier Province Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti said during a visit to Swat this week that the girls’ schools would reopen. But the Times says the provincial government is strapped for money and there is speculation that the government cannot afford to rebuild the burned schools.
Moreover, European donors who have budgeted money for development in Swat said there was now hesitation in helping if the Taliban were in effective control.
Despite the truce, most people remain terrified of the Taliban, said Mohammad Amad, executive director of a private aid group Initiative for Development and Empowerment Axis.
Militants continue to hunt down anyone who backs the government and the army, it adds.
The Taliban has also announced in the local mosque that every family in the village would have to contribute one young man to their ranks, Amad was quoted as saying.
Local and provincial officials appear to be powerless in the face of the Taliban, and many remain in exile in Peshawar, the Times reports, adding some officials have fled to Islamabad, some as far afield as London.
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First Published: Fri, Mar 06 2009. 04 30 PM IST