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Friday, January 30, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: ON THE MILITANT TRAIL, Part 2

In the second report in a series of articles exploring Pakistan's tribal areas, Syed Saleem Shahzad visits Malakand Agency to examine the differing natures and strategies of various Taliban groups. Malakand Agency is a region in North-West Frontier Province and covers one third of the total area of the province. The region is further divided into several districts - Chitral, Dir, Swat, Buner, Shangla and agencies like Malakand and Mohmand. Malakand Agency.

This is a translation (at right) of a letter written on the Taliban's letterhead and delivered through the post on January 22, 2009, to an ear, nose and throat specialist at a hospital in Batkaila in Malakand Agency.

Earlier, the names of five doctors were broadcast on the Taliban's local FM radio station, saying that based on public complaints, the Taliban had made some investigations and found that the five doctors had behaved arrogantly towards their patients.

The Taliban said that the doctors did not have any sympathy for their patients and that they just tried to make as much money as they could. Further, they were hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical companies and prescribed very costly medicine.

The Taliban warned the doctors that they must "reform" their behavior, otherwise stringent actions would be taken against them. The doctors did change their behavior, and then each of them received a letter of "clearance", as above.

Welcome to Malakand Agency, where one can freely roam around and yet not see a single Taliban vigilante, even though they rule the roost.


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