Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taliban Threaten Local Leaders

ISLAMABAD, May 13: A Taliban spokesman issued a series of threats and ultimatums against officials on Wednesday and demanded that all national and provincial assembly members from the Malakand division must resign within three days.

“Otherwise, we will arrest all their families,” Muslim Khan threatened in a telephone interview with CNN. “We will destroy all their buildings.”

The spokesman issued a separate directive aimed at prompting a public show of support for the militants from Islamist political parties. “All these parties must help the Taliban,” he said. “They must give a press conference to show the people that we need sharia in the Malakand division.”

Leaders of Jamaat-i-Islami, it may be mentioned, have spoken out against the military offensive in the Swat valley, but they have stopped short of announcing support for the Taliban.

Throughout the fighting over the past three weeks, the grey-bearded Muslim Khan has been the public face of the Taliban, enthusiastically courting local and international media in jovial telephone conversations.

In an earlier phone interview with CNN, he described how he had spent four years living in the United States, working as a painter in the Boston area.

On Wednesday, he denied reports from many refugees emerging from the Swat valley that Taliban militants had carried out a campaign of violence and intimidation in the region for the past two years.

Several terrified Swat residents, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from the Taliban, described how insurgents kidnapped and killed their critics, beheaded government informers and blew up girls’ schools.

Muslim Khan confirmed that Pakistani troops had attacked Peochar, which he described as a “place for mujahideen”.

Source: Pakistan Dawn

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