The pro-government militant faction led by commander Mullah Nazeer has banned mobile phones with built-in digital cameras and memory cards in Wana – a subdivision of South Waziristan tribal region which is believed to be a stronghold of the militant leader.
The announcement, which was made through loudspeakers from different mosques, also warned that any tribesman found in possession of such a cellphone would be fined Rs15,000 and his device would be confiscated.
Prayer leaders and clerics in different mosques have also been asked to spread awareness amongst tribesmen in their Friday sermons about the camera phone ban.
The reason provided for this ban is that the misuse of such mobiles violates the teachings of Islam and tribal customs. Indian and Pashto songs on these phones were cited as an example. The ban is also being used to justify protecting the honour and dignity of tribal women to ensure no videos of them are recorded in violation of the purdah system in the area. There is only one mobile network inside the Wana Scouts camp and the adjacent localities of Wana subdivision.
In the past, the Mullah Nazeer group set ablaze several camera phones in Wana Rustam Bazaar, and warned tribesmen to avoid using these kinds of technologies.
Militants in Swat
Earlier, in Swat, three Taliban fighters were killed in an ambush with security forces in the Sarsardarey village of Manglawar union council late Friday night.
Security forces raided the location where militants were hiding following a tip by local residents, according to Swat Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson Col Zeeshan.
“Locals of the area informed security forces about some suspected militants in the area,” he said. “Following their tip-off the security forces cordoned off the area and raided the location, at which point militants opened fire on them. The security forces killed three militants,” the spokesperson told local media, adding that two short machine guns (SMGs), one pistol and ammunition were also recovered from the militants. He added said that the area has been cleared of the Taliban and there was no resistance from their side.
According to sources, the militants hail from an area located on the border of Buner district.
The new wave of target killing in the valley has resulted in the death of several peace committee members. As a result of the frequent attacks, security forces have beefed up their presence in sensitive areas and set up extra check points in those places as well. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FAZAL KHALIQ IN SWAT)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.