PESHAWAR - Most families of
Taliban men killed in fighting against the army in
Pakistan or in Afghanistan have been reduced to
living in abject poverty. "The majority of the
families of the militants have now resorted to
seeking alms from the people to get a meal," Taj
Muhammad Khan, a schoolteacher in Tank, one of the
25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) adjacent
to the militancy-infested Waziristan in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) told
"There is no one to help them," said
Khan. "The people also look down upon such
families whose men had joined the Taliban and were
killed by the army." The Taliban has recruited
teenaged and illiterate men but doesn't help their
families when they are killed, he said.
Ikramullah Shah, 28, a fruit seller, left
his home in Tank in January
last year. "He left to
pray in a local mosque but didn't come back," his
father, Abdullah Shah, told IPS. "In April, some
Taliban leaders came to my house after midnight to
tell me that my son [Ikramullah Shah] had become
martyred in the fight against the infidel army.
Now, I beg to bring up his children and widow."
Shafqatullah, a 21-year-old farmer from
Charsadda district, was killed in Afghanistan in
June 2010. He had supported his two young brothers
and parents. "We feel shattered," his father said
"The Taliban had given me US$400 when
they gave us news of my son's death. They had
promised to give money every month but they
didn't. Some people now give us money in charity."
KP sports minister Syed Aqil Shah, who has
survived three Taliban attacks, told IPS the
Taliban were mercenaries who ditched their
friends. "The Taliban deprived hundreds of
families of their breadwinners by luring
youngsters to militancy, and then didn't care
about the well-being of the grieving families."
Initially, Taliban leaders paid some money
to those who died in fighting in their cause, but
now they are facing severe financial crisis, he
said, as the international crackdown on financing
terror had led to financial troubles for the
Taliban and support to families of Taliban members
who died fighting had dried up after 2008.
"The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
[TTP] has now been raising money through
kidnappings for ransom, extortion from the rich,
and bank robberies," he said. "The cash flow is
insufficient for the militants to support
Muhammad Khalid, who has investigated more than a
dozen such cases, said that families suffer
greatly when militants are killed, although
previously in some cases the Taliban had paid
lucrative amounts to heirs of slain soldiers.
In Bannu district, adjacent to Waziristan,
the police found that the Taliban had paid $34,000
to a family for the death of a militant in 2005.
But over recent years the Taliban have
abandoned several of their jihadists and their
families in Mardan district of KP, minister Syed
Aqil Shah said.
Najibullah, 20, a
mechanic, met some Taliban members in an auto
workshop where he worked back in 2009. He went
missing the next day. In January 2011, some
Taliban members came to tell his father,
Shakirullah, that his son had been martyred.
Shakirullah told IPS the Taliban were
responsible for the death of his son. "My two
grandchildren are now literally surviving on
charity and alms extended to us by wealthy
Habibur Rehman, in the adjacent
Nowshera district, suffered similarly. In April
2009, his son Gul Rekhan, 17, was taken away by
Taliban members from a shop in his village. Rehman
was told by telephone three months later that his
son had died in a suicide attack that killed 10
North Atlantic Treaty Organization solders in
"The Taliban congratulated me
on the martyrdom of my son," Rehman said. "But
since then I have been unable to cope with the
problems at home."