Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban have
introduced "moral policing" in parts of northeastern
Afghanistan in a bid to enforce their puritanical version of
Islam, Afghan police officials have said.
Key leaders of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan -
including its chieftains Maulana Fazlullah from Swat, Maulvi
Faqir of Bajaur Agency and Abdul Wali of Mohmand Agency - and
dozens of their fighters fled military operations in Pakistan
and sought sanctuary in the Afghan provinces of Nuristan and
They mounted sporadic cross-border attacks on Pakistani
troops in Chitral and Dir districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Now, they have introduced "moral policing" on the pattern
of the Taliban-era "Department for the Preservation of Virtue
and Prevention of Vice" in Kamdesh district of Nuristan.
Armed vigilantes of the Pakistani Taliban roam the
streets to stop what they believe are "un-Islamic" activities.
"Turbaned and bearded Pakistani Taliban fighters, clad in
black clothes, punish local people for shaving or trimming
beards, using mobile phones and even eating naswar," Afghan
provincial police chief Ghulamullah Nuristani said over phone.
The vigilantes, according to Nuristani, are affiliated
with a Pakistani Taliban faction led by Maulana Fazlullah, the
infamous cleric who fled his stronghold in the Swat valley
following a military operation in 2009.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Sirajuddin and the Afghan
Taliban denied the police chief’s claim.
The Taliban`s shadow governor for Nuristan, Sheikh Dost
Muhammad, dismissed Nuristani`s claim as "part of propaganda
to undermine the Taliban`s growing popularity in the region".
"Only Afghan Taliban operate in the areas under our
control," Dost Muhammad said over phone.
However, local journalists said people are routinely
body-searched in Taliban-controlled areas.
"Afghan officials believe the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
is involved," said Nimatullah Karyab, an Afghan journalist
from Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province.
Before the toppling of their regime by US-led foreign
forces in 2001, the Afghan Taliban had set up a department
called Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkar or the Department
for the Preservation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as part
of their Islamisation campaign.
The Nuristan police chief claimed scores of Pakistani
families had also crossed over into Kamdesh district, where
the writ of the Afghan government does not apply.
Afghan officials claimed Pakistani Taliban fighters were
"harassing native Afghans" in Barg-e-Metal district and
forcing them to vacate their homes for Pakistani families.
Nuristan and Kunar virtually fell to the Taliban
following the pullout of US-led NATO forces from forward bases
in the two provinces in 2009-10.
In a related development, Afghan forces yesterday seized
a truckload of bomb-making material in Kunar which, they
claimed, was coming from Multan in Pakistan`s Punjab province.