We ask the people of Swat to identify militants and inform security personnel at the nearest checkpost: DG ISPR Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas.—Reuters
By Iftikhar A. Khan
Friday, 15 May, 2009 | 05:16 PM PST | www.dawn.com
ISLAMABAD: The army has appealed to the people of Swat to help it to identify terrorists who are trying to flee in disguise because they are being encircled.
‘We have confirmed reports that these Taliban terrorists are shaving off their beard, trimming their hair and fleeing the area,’ military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told Dawn on Friday.
‘We ask the people of Swat to identify militants and inform security personnel at the nearest checkpost.’
He said the youths forcibly recruited by terrorists had started deserting them because troops were inflicting heavy casualties and the operation was gaining momentum.
He said that security forces were now closing in on Mingora and Matta from three directions. Militants’ bases in Peochar valley have been attacked and efforts are being made to target their leadership.
‘We expect to receive an overwhelming support from the people when the army will start liberating the area and provide them the desired level of comfort and security.’
Maj-Gen Abbas expressed the hope that the people would not only support security forces but also act against terrorists after having suffered immensely at the hands of the militants.
‘This is how we are going to take the operation ahead. Brutalities of the terrorists have now started coming out.’
Referring to ruthlessness of Matta Taliban Commander Ibne Amin, the military spokesman said that militants had beheaded prayer leader Zahid Khan and killed three women for providing water to troops.
55 MILITANTS KILLED
According to an ISPR press release on the operation, 55 militants and three security personnel were killed and 11 others injured on Thursday and Friday in Swat and adjoining areas.
Militant commander Dawa Noor who was a member of the TNSM shura and was involved in terrorist activities in Sultanwas and Daggar has been arrested.
Before the operation was launched in Buner, Noor was reported to be inciting people against security forces on FM radio and loudspeaker.
He had helped the Taliban to take over Buner. According to the ISPR, 13 militants were killed and one of their vehicles was destroyed when they attacked a security checkpost in Peochar.
Forty-two militants were killed and 15 vehicles destroyed in Kalpanai and Sultanwas. One soldier was killed and three others were injured in the clashes.
Troops have set up checkposts between Matta and Bar Bamkhe. Security forces reached the northwest of Matta after clearing Giga and Jura areas of militants. Two compounds of the Taliban were destroyed in the village of Adai, south of Ramotai.
Shaving for survival?
Shyema Sajjad questions the Taliban and their latest tactic for survival.
Latest reports claim that the Taliban are shaving off their beards to escape the operation in Swat. The Taliban have maintained that the beards are a sign of being a devoted and true Muslim. Perhaps that is why the Afghani Taliban had gone to the extent of measuring the beards of normal citizens out on the streets of Kabul. Perhaps that is why beard trimmers have been jailed by the ‘religious police’. Perhaps that is also why the Taliban have vandalised barber shops in Buner and threatened barbers to stop cutting hair and trimming beards. So why bring in the razors now?
Already listed as the modern-day barbarians, these men have now taken to shaving off their supposed ‘identity’ in order to escape without being noticed by the Pakistan military. Clever tactic but is it worth shedding off their religious beliefs for? Or do their beliefs allow them to go clean shaven if it’s about the question of their survival? If that is the case then they are no different than the society they target – double standards persist either way.
How come the rules have not been relaxed then if a woman is dying and has a doctor at hand but one who can’t do much to save her because he is a man? Women have died of curable ailments just because male doctors were not allowed to touch them. Does that not come into the debate of survival? Or are women exempted from this exemption list?
The government and NGOs are having a hard time keeping track of the displaced people because now they don’t know who could be a militant and who is a refugee. Are beards the only thing that can determine a refugee from a militant? If so, then the military has an even bigger task ahead of themselves.