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Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 16:27 UK

Taleban set up 'Pakistan courts'

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Islamabad

Taleban militants carry out a public killing in Bajaur
The militants have their own brand of harsh justice

Taleban militants in Pakistan's north-western Mohmand tribal area have set up permanent Islamic courts, they say.

The districts have been divided into four judicial zones, each having two judges and a permanent court address.

The Taleban have up until now used mobile courts - with no permanent offices or judges - to settle criminal and financial disputes.

They say the permanent courts show the diminishing authority of the central and local governments.

The Taleban currently control large areas of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) along the border with Afghanistan.

'Dozens of judgements'

"There will be eight judges, two for each zonal court, and there will be a top judge to whom appeals can be made," Dr Asad, a spokesman for the Mohmand Taleban, told the BBC News website.

Map

An official of the Mohmand tribal administration confirmed the report, saying the courts were already functioning a day after the Taleban's announcement.

Meanwhile, the top spokesman for the Pakistani Taleban Movement (PTM), Maulvi Omar, has told the BBC Urdu service that permanent Taleban courts were already functioning in Bajaur district, Mohmand's northern neighbour.

"About 20 local religious scholars issue dozens of judgements each day in Bajaur, where we have the most organised judicial system in place," he said.

Public killings

In addition the PTM also runs a vast network of mobile courts in the rest of the Fata areas, he said.

The cases range from land transactions and loan disputes to family matters.

Pakistani militants
The Taleban are becoming increasingly powerful in the tribal areas

All this is embarrassing for the Pakistani government, especially because the Taleban have in the past carried out cruel punishments against people accused of moral turpitude, crime or spying.

Earlier this month, two Afghan nationals accused of spying for the US were publicly killed on the orders of a Taleban court in Bajaur.

Last month, a court in Orakzai ordered the public killing of half a dozen alleged bandits.

And in March, the Taleban killed a couple after they were allegedly found guilty of adultery by a court in Mohmand.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops are engaged in a week-long face off with militants in the Hangu district of NWFP, on the border with Orakzai tribal region.

The militants say they are holding more than 20 government officials hostage, and would like to exchange them for four Taleban activists arrested by the police on 5 July from Doaba, a town near Hangu.


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