The Taliban takeover of the Northwest Frontier Province continues virtually unopposed. In North Waziristan, the Pakistani government is suing for peace after five days of fighting that resulted in at least 50 soldiers killed; unofficial estimates are over 100). In South Waziristan, the Taliban are showing off a captured military base, parading captured soldiers in front of the media, and bragging about beheadings. In the settled district of Swat, the local Taliban are conducting public floggings while the bomb religious statues. In Mohmand, the Taliban are conducting public beheadings.
The fighting in North Waziristan has essentially stopped. The last reported incidents from North Waziristan occurred on Thursday. Two soldiers were wounded in a roadside bombing, and rockets were launched at a fort near Miranshah. The majority of the fighting earlier this week occurred in Mir Ali.
The Taliban and the Pakistani military are currently working on a ceasefire, the Daily Times reported, with the end goal being the renegotiation of the North Waziristan Accord.
“Once the ceasefire is agreed upon then a larger jirga will discuss permanent peace,” Ali Jan Orakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province said. The negotiations between the government and the Taliban are being conducted through tribal elders.
The government signaled it was looking for a political solution earlier in the week just as the fighting raged in and around Mir Ali. The government claimed over 200 Taliban were killed, including 25 Uzbek, Arab, Afghan, and Tajik members of al Qaeda. Tribesmen claimed the majority of those killed were civilians after the air force bombed a series of towns in the region.
The Taliban continue to showcase the Pakistani soldiers captured two months ago. BBC News correspondent Syed Shoaib Hasan was taken to the Taliban base in South Waziristan where scores of soldiers are still in captivity.
Hasan was taken to a captured Pakistani army communications outpost. The Taliban displayed post communications equipment, vehicles, as well as several of the Pakistani soldiers taken prisoner. Zulfiqar Mehsud, the spokesman for al Qaeda-linked Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, said 50 Pakistani soldiers were captured when the outpost was overrun.
The Taliban base is in an identifiable location, as the BBC photograph shows. The mountains, fortifications, and white marking on the ground are clear markers. The Pakistani military will know exactly where this site is located.
But “the militants control so much of the territory here,” Hasan noted. “The reaction of the people is startling – the children smile and wave, while the adults look on with respect and pride,” he said as he passed through South Waziristan to reach the camp. “It appears that local support for the militants is almost universal.”
The Taliban continue to practice the beheading of their enemies. Numerous “US spies” and “government spies” have been murdered and beheaded, and the Taliban are beheading Pakistani soldiers. Hasan interviewed the Taliban about their practice:
One militant, Faisal, said “cutting off the head is the best and most humane way to kill”.
“When the head is removed from the body the soul is immediately released. Whereas when you hang a person, the soul has to struggle to escape from the mouth.”
“If we want to punish someone, we cut his head from the back of the neck, instead of the throat,” says Faisal. “That is very painful and its takes a long time to die.” One of the group, we are told, has decapitated 53 men.
Many of the US and government spies have been found beheaded “from the back of the neck,” with notes pinned on their bodies warning others of the consequences of going against the Taliban.
Swat, Mohmand agencies
In Swat, where Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah just formed a volunteer force to “control the law & order,” the Taliban whipped three accused kidnappers in front of a crowd of 20,000 people in the town of Matta. “Such punishments will deter others from committing crimes,” Fazlullah said.
The local police in Swat stood by as the punishment was meted out by the Taliban. “Police confirmed that three men were publicly whipped but said that they were unable to take any action because [Fazlullah] had a large following of armed men,” AFP reported. “He has declared a holy war against the government and it is not the police’s job to fight a war,” a senior police official told AFP. Fazlullah is famous not only for his attacks on the government, but for running illegal FM radio programs extolling jihad and opposing polio vaccination programs.
The Taliban also successfully damaged a statue of a 23-foot-tall Buddha, which “is considered to be the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas,” DailyNewsIndia.com reported. The Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001 just prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Swat Taliban had time for “drilling holes in the rock and filling them with dynamite.” A prior attempt to destroy the Buddha on September 29 failed.
In Mohmand, the Taliban publicly beheaded six “criminals.” The accused were captured after a gun battle that resulted in four Taliban killed. The Taliban raided the leader of a kidnapping gang, and a battle ensued. “The gang leader opened fire, killing four of the militants, but they later killed him and five of his family members, burned down his house and seized another six of his followers,” AFP reported.
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