Pak Taliban warns not to prosecute militants

Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban have warned that their fighters were targeting civilians and government employees who helped the prosecution of arrested militants, according to a media report today.
Militant commander Sirajuddin Ahmad, the spokesman for the Taliban in Swat, said the militants had started targeting civilians and government employees who wanted to help the authorities and would become witnesses in court against militants currently in custody on terrorism charges.

Ahmad, who spoke on phone to The News daily from somewhere in Afghanistan, said Maulana Fazlullah, the former Taliban commander in Swat, had directed his fighters to eliminate political leaders and government and military personnel who could assist courts or become witnesses against militants arrested during military operations.

He claimed a political leader from the Kanju area of Swat was attacked by the Taliban on Saturday for allegedly suggesting to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police chief Akbar Khan Hoti that detained militants should be punished for their involvement terrorism and violence.

Ahmad claimed the informers of the Taliban were present in the jirga (tribal council) that was held by the provincial police chief at Mingora. He said the police chief, in response to the demands of the people of Swat, said the government was unable to prosecute and punish detained militants due to lack of evidence and witnesses against them. Ahmad further claimed that the security forces had detained 2,500 Taliban fighters but had not so far produced them in court as they had no evidence against them. Political leaders were now suggesting that militants who had surrendered should be made to testify in court against the detained fighters, he said.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed or captured when the Pakistan Army carried out an operation in Swat valley, located 160 km from Islamabad, in 2009. However, most of the top militant commanders of the area managed to escape to neighbouring Afghanistan.