Taleban 'leaves' Pakistan district
Days after taking over the Buner region, the Taliban claim to have withdrawn in order to respect the peace agreement in which the Taliban were given the right to impose Sharia Law on the population. The senior police officer for the district maintains that local Taliban militia are roaming freely, terrorizing the local population.
The Pakistani Taliban from the Swat Valley have pulled back from a district 100km from the capital, Islamabad, to shore up a peace deal with the government, a Taliban spokesman said.
The authorities confirmed the Taliban withdrawal, but said local Buner Taliban and some Swat Taliban were still armed and roaming the streets.
"They have gone, but left their germs here," Abdul Rasheed Khan, the senior district police officer, said.
"Now we have about 200 local Taliban who can be seen on roadsides."
Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the Taleban have banned music, ordered all girls over the age of seven to wear a burqa and told all men to grow beards.
NGOs were targeted, including those led by Pakistani groups that educate people on health and hygiene. Offices were ransacked and vehicles seized. Checkpoints were set up at key tranportation spots.
Residents of Buner, home to nearly 650,000 Pakistanis, said 400 to 500 heavily-armed Taleban now roam freely throughout the district. The takeover follows the Taleban's assumption of power in the neighbouring Swat valley.
For the past two days, the Taleban have established a checkpoint on the main road entering Buner, at Babaji Khandao, at which they check every vehicle and target anyone working with non-governmental organizations.
Members of the small Sikh and Hindu communities living in Buner told Amnesty International that the Taleban have not targeted them, but that many of their members are preparing to leave out of fear of a significant deterioration in the situation.
This further incursion into Pakistan and partial withdrawal serves to frighten away those who would help the local population as well as local non-Muslim residents.