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Monday, October 23, 2006

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pro-Taleban militants in tax move

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Pro-Taleban militants in tax move
Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's troubled North Waziristan tribal region have announced plans to raise their own taxes, reports say.

The plans were announced in pamphlets issued in the district's capital town, Miranshah, on Sunday.

In September the central government signed a controversial peace deal with the local militants.

Afghan and Nato troops say the area has been used by the Taleban to mount cross-border attacks.

Pakistan says the peace deal requires the local tribesmen to stop sheltering Taleban and al-Qaeda fugitives and prevent them from crossing the border into Afghanistan.

As a quid pro quo, the regular army troops were withdrawn to their camps, leaving the tribesmen, led by local pro-Taleban militants, in control of law and order.

An earlier bid by the local militants to start taking over the running of law and order in Miranshah was abandoned on the request of Pakistani officials.

'After Eid'

On Sunday, a council of the local Taleban, which claims to speak on behalf of the tribal elders, announced the levy of taxes on various categories of trucks and businesses.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC news website that actual collection of the taxes would start after Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The pamphlets also gave details of punishments to be handed out. It said anyone guilty of murder would themselves be killed.

People found guilty of crimes such as theft would face fines of 500,000 rupees ($8,250) and two months in prison.

'Closely watch'

In neighbouring region of South Waziristan, also bordering Afghanistan, there were two agreements between the army and local pro-Taleban militants, in April 2004 and February 2005.

Since then, various local Taleban groups in South Waziristan have taken over the administration of justice, including imposing fines. They also collect taxes and recruiting fighters.

Western officials and some Nato commanders in Afghanistan have said they would closely watch developments in North Waziristan following September's peace deal between the tribes and the government.

Some observers fear that the situation in North Waziristan may follow the same pattern as in South Waziristan, with local Taleban setting up sanctuaries for Afghan insurgents.

But the Pakistani government says that the peace deal is an effective tool to separate militants from the non-militant tribesmen and isolate foreign militants in the region.

They say the deal opened the way for a similar deal between the local tribesmen of Musa Qala district in Afghanistan's Helmand province and the British troops last week.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/10/23 16:45:36 GMT


BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pro-Taleban militants in tax move

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