Mullah Fazlullah. Click image to view the slideshow of the Taliban Leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The leader of the Taliban-controlled district of Swat in Pakistan’s northwest has ordered more than 50 political and tribal leaders to appear before a sharia court within a week or face “dangerous consequences.”
Mullah Fazlullah, Swat’s radical Taliban leader, issued the order in a broadcast over his illegal FM radio channel after convening the Taliban shura, or council.
“They (the political leaders) have destroyed peace in Swat and they should be tried in the Taliban’s sharia courts,” Fazlullah said in the radio broadcast, according to a report in The Hindu. “If they do not appear in the courts, they will face dangerous consequences.”
Fazlullah ordered political leaders in the Northwest Frontier Province, including members of the provincial and national assemblies, provincial ministers, the mayor of Mingora, and leaders of the Awami National Party, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistani Muslim League – Qaid, and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and Islamist party. Tribal elders were also summoned to appear before the shura. [see list]
The Taliban declared sharia law throughout Swat and have dispensed punishments ranging from public whippings to beheadings.
Late last week, Fazlullah offered “conditional amnesty for social and political workers and public representatives from target[ed] killings” if they promised to halt opposition to the Taliban rule in Swat. Members of the provincial and national assemblies have been excluded from the amnesty. The offer was also made on Fazlullah’s illegal radio station.
The federal government admitted the Swat, neighboring Shangla, and several other districts outside of the tribal areas are under Taliban control. The Taliban have control over the district of Swat save the main town of Mingora, which is under siege.
The military has failed to suppress the Taliban insurgency. The police have been rendered ineffective due to assassinations and desertions, while the Army has been incapable of defeating the Taliban. More than 70 police and 120 soldiers were killed in Swat last year.
The Taliban have conducted a wave of targeted assassinations against tribal leaders and politicians in Swat. Local, provincial and federal politicians have fled their homes after the Taliban conducted attacks against their homes and murdered their families. Most recently, the leader of a tribal group opposed to the Taliban was murdered and his body was descecrated as a warning to others.
Pakistani forces have been fighting forces aligned with Fazlullah, a radical cleric of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) for almost two years.
The TNSM is known as the “Pakistani Taliban” and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent more than 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001. Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the TNSM, was released from a Pakistani jail in a failed peace agreement with the Swat Taliban.
Fazlullah merged with Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, in December 2007.
Fazlullah has successfully organized a campaign opposing polio vaccinations and has forced the closure girls’ schools throughout the region. More than 200 schools have been destroy in Swat since fighting began in 2007.
The fighting has destroyed Swat’s once thriving tourist industry. Fazlullah’s forces have burned down the popular ski lodge and bombed the lifts.
For additional information on the fall of Swat, see:
Jan. 23, 2009
Dec. 6, 2008
June 27, 2008
May 21, 2008
July 7, 2007
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.