Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Swat diary: 'Taleban rule now'

A masked militant supporter of Maulana Fazlullah, a hardline cleric, raises a sword and a knife as he stands guard outside a building, where paramilitary troops from the Frontier Corps are detained, in Charabagh near Mingora, Nov 2007
Militant Taleban sympathisers are fighting for control of Swat

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of north-west Pakistan, describes the challenges of daily life in his valley as the Taleban and the army vie for influence. In recent weeks, he says, the Taleban have gained the upper hand and are making their presence felt in brutal fashion.

I know I always say the situation is terrible. And each time I find myself saying it, I am aware it has got worse.

Over the last five to six days 13 bodies have been found in our area. In Mingora [capital of Swat] bodies are laid out in the square called Green Chowk. Hundreds come and look at the dead bodies.

Sometimes they have been beheaded, sometimes they are just shot.

Over the last few months the number of people killed in my village alone is in double digits. Some of them are villagers, others are frontiers corps and sometimes we see total strangers just lying there.

But recently there was a terrible death in our village. It happened while I was away. It was a prominent man who spoke against the Taleban and tried to unite people against them. He was shot dead.

Here, nobody really fully knows who belongs to the Taleban. The militants are obvious, the sympathisers are not.
The deadline of 15 January that the Taleban have set for girls schools to close down is a false deadline. Schools have already closed.

Dozens have been burned to the ground. My two nieces were going to school and now they just stay at home. Nobody dares to educate girls now.

People are very sad about this but they are more sad about the dead bodies. People are really becoming very upset about this problem.


And the Taleban are taking power, they are going up in the world.

Last night I saw for myself in my village that they had painted on walls signs saying: "Do not smoke" and "do not sell hashish". It is frightening to see these things painted around your home.

In a village close by militants entered people's homes and broke television sets and beat the owners using terrible force on them.

They walk about warning people not to smoke and sell cigarettes or hashish. Some people in our village smoke hashish and opium.

The people who were seen smoking during Ramadan were taken by the Taleban, beaten and their mobiles were broken.

'People leaving'

Most of the Taleban in my area are local villagers, I have come to believe now. Or at least people who were close friends of the Taleban.

Things have changed a lot recently as the Taleban have gained more power in this region. They have guns, weapons, they have got everything. So I think this makes people want to become one of them.

Some people are leaving. My uncle's old home has been occupied by the Taleban. They have total control of his village. Many of the homes there were razed to the ground when the Taleban battled the army - but the Taleban are still there, although many villagers have left.

Here, nobody really fully knows who belongs to the Taleban. The militants are obvious, the sympathisers are not. There is no trust. The issue becomes complicated when reporters come to the district. Nobody is willing to talk to them.

Everyone is scared.

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