Execution videos strike terror in
Pakistan By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR - A video showing a group of 16
Pakistani policemen, hands tied behind their
backs, being executed by Taliban gunmen in the Dir
district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is only
the latest in a series showing brutal acts
designed to strike terror in the areas bordering
In the video, released on
Monday, an unknown member of the Taliban explains
that the policemen are being punished for
abandoning Islam and to avenge the deaths of six
Pakistani children killed during security
operations in adjacent Swat district. They are
condemned as "enemies of Islam and apostates".
"These are the enemies of Allah's religion
and have left Islam. Allah orders to kill such
people," one of the Taliban says.
policemen are believed to have been abducted by
during a raid on a security
post in the village of Shaltalo on June 1.
Pakistani army spokesman Major-General
Athar Abbas said the security forces were captured
during a cross-border raid by militants from
Afghanistan in the northwestern Dir district on
June 1. He gave no other details.
first thought that we were watching a scene from
an action movie and could not believe that it was
an authentic recording of executions," Imranullah,
a resident of Dir, told Inter Press Service (IPS).
"But, given the Taliban's reputation for
brutality, we were soon convinced that it was
genuine," Imranullah said. "We still remember how
the Taliban murdered a popular female dancer
called Shabana in Swat and strung her body up from
an electricity pole as warning."
international tourist destination, was ruled by
Taliban from 2007 until 2009 when they were
evicted in an army operation. Shabana's gruesome
execution in December 2008 resulted in some 400
women dancers fleeing the district or confining
themselves to their homes.
The Taliban use
terror tactics not only to enforce their
fundamentalist ideology but also against their
political opponents and those suspected of passing
on information to the United States army engaged
in the "war-on-terror" in neighboring Afghanistan.
In 2005, a truck driver was dragged
through a bazaar in the South Waziristan tribal
area before being killed and his body was left
hanging from a post. A note pasted over his body
read: "Those spying on the Taliban for the US will
face similar punishment."
As an ally of
the United States in its "war-on-terror" in
Afghanistan, the Pakistani military has launched
offensives against the Taliban and other extremist
groups holing up along the mountainous border
In 2007, the Pakistani army
launched an operation in Swat against Taliban and
al-Qaeda elements that began crossing over the
porous border seeking sanctuary from the US-led
invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
January 2008, the Taliban killed Pir Samiullah,
one of their opponents in Swat, and later exhumed
his body to be displayed in a public square
shocking people in the valley.
graphic Dir video, the Taliban fighters start
firing at their victims on orders shouted by a
commander. The firing continues as the Taliban
examine the fallen policemen and fire at them from
close range to ensure they are dead. Speaking in
the Pashto language the commander is shown
directing fire at particular policemen.
member of the Swat Peace Committee, Ziauddin
Yousafzai, told IPS that the gross human-rights
abuses and the videos have so terrorized the local
people that they are afraid to speak out against
"In Swat district alone,
about 300 people, including policemen and people
opposed to the Taliban people, have been
slaughtered. Often their bodies would be displayed
at the Green Chowk [square] to send out the
message that those opposing Taliban will meet an
identical fate," he said.
2010, the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
(Pakistan Taliban - TTP), stoned to death an
elderly woman accused of committing adultery. The
video showed the woman pleading for mercy and
In January, a former
Pakistani military intelligence official, known as
Colonel Imam, a senior officer in Pakistan's
Inter-Service Intelligence, who was considered
close to the Afghan Taliban, was executed in the
presence of TTP chief Hakimullah Mahsud.
"Killing an elderly person in a brutal way
is against Islam and violates all norms of human
rights. These barbaric acts have earned disrepute
and notoriety for the Taliban," Hafizullah, a
student at the University of Peshawar, who had
seen Imam's execution video, told IPS.
Hafizullah says that such inhuman acts had
brought a bad name to Islam. "Every religion,
including Islam, advocates peace and enjoins its
followers to shun violence. Taliban are doing the
opposite. They neither respect women nor men while
Islam calls for equal treatment of men and women,
irrespective of color, creed, gender and
religion," Hafizullah said.
rights groups like the Human Right Watch, Amnesty
International as well as the independent Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan have repeatedly
condemned brutal acts committed by the Taliban and
also the Pakistan army.
Residents of Swat
have bitter memories of the years when Taliban
held sway over the valley and banned women from
visiting bazaars and female students from
"They displayed banners
in Swat warning that women were not allowed to
venture out in public unless accompanied by a male
family member," Yousafzai said.
2009, Swat hit headlines for a video showing the
flogging of a teenaged girl who, unable bear the
pain, could be heard pleading to be put to death.
The girl had been charged with having an illicit
affair and her denials were ignored.
Killing innocent people on charges of
adultery or of spying is now commonplace and the
Taliban take pride in claiming responsibility for