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The Talibanization of Pakistan?
Girls' schools, music stores and barber shops under attack
Ghafar Ali Khan (ghaffar)     Print Article 
Published 2007-05-04 22:08 (KST)   
In a fresh campaign against "vulgarity" and "obscenity" suspected militants early Friday morning blew up around 12 music and video stores, barber shops and a girls school in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

No casualties were reported as a result of these incidents.

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A bomb blast destroyed the main gate and wall of the Girls Higher Secondary School at Gumbat in the district of Mardan early Friday morning. No casualties resulted, however, as the school was closed at the time of the bomb blast. Female students of schools in Hoti, Shah Dhand, Takht Bhai and Lond Khwar area of Mardan had received threats in the last few months to stop attending schools.

Two bomb blasts at different locations in Charsadda district, some 15 miles northeast of the provincial capital of Peshawar destroyed around 12 music, video and barber shops

Police said the explosions occurred early Friday morning, when the shops were closed, with a locally made bomb at a market in the Tangi sub-division of the district, destroying at least two music and video stores and six grocery shops. In another similar bomb blast four CD stores and a barber shop were razed to the ground in the old Charsadda market.

A third bomb was set off in another market targeting a CD shop in Charsadda.

"Music CDs and video and barber shops were the target of the attacks," a police official said.

No one has accepted responsibility for the attacks and no arrest has been made in the sabotage activities so far.

Last month the CD shop owners in Charsadda had received threatening letters from unidentified militants to close their music business and convert to other businesses, as music is considered "un-Islamic."

On the other side, a local traders association has accused the district administration of failing to provide security to them. "We have informed the administration about the threatening letters but the officials termed these letters as a hoax," a trader said.

Pakistan's interior minister, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, survived a suicide bomb attack last week during a public rally in which around 30 persons were killed and 50 injured in Charsadda.

Music CD and video shops, hair dressers and girls' schools have been under threat from suspected militants in NWFP and its tribal area for the last few months. The businessmen dealing in music CDs and videos are receiving threats from suspected militants to close their shops and convert to other business as their business, according to the threats, is considered "un-Islamic." Previously the threats were confined only to tribal areas but later the threats spread to the settled districts of NWFP.

Barbers have also been warned in the tribal area and some settled districts of NWFP to refrain from shaving the beards of customers.

On April 24 two barber shops were blown up and four adjacent shops damaged when two bombs went off in a market in Kumbar, the native village of Maulana Sufi Mohammad, leader of the banned Tehrik Nefaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi, in the Maidan area in the Dir District of NWFP. In Bajaur agency barbers shops were destroyed with bomb blast.

Music CDs and video shops in the provincial capital Peshawar, districts of Mardan, Swabi, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Tank came under the suspected militants bomb attacks in April and March.

NWFP Law minister Malik Zafar Azam last week told journalists following growing threats to barbers, girls students and music shop owners that there is no Talibanization in the province but that criminal and terrorist elements were behind the threatening letters to barbers and music centers' owners.

"The provincial government will ensure the security of the people and will initiate legal action against these elements," he said.

Azam said that the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government had initiated an inquiry upon the complaints of people regarding threatening letters to barbers' shops, music centers' owners and some girls schools. During the inquiry, he said, it was found that criminal and the terrorist elements were behind the plot.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ghafar Ali Khan

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