The Tale of Palwasha and the Taliban

Posted on July 21, 2009
Filed Under >Ghazala Khan, Law & Justice, People, Society
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Ghazala Khan

Pakistanis have come out of that ominous state of baffled, bamboozled and befuddled apathy and now showing the same signs of unity and sacrifice that we had witnessed after the 8th October, 2005 earthquake.

Especially the people of Swabi, Mardan and the suburbia villages have set an example of extreme human sacrifice and the generosity. More than 3.5 million people have become internally displaced from the war-torn Swat and FATA and only six percent of these IDPs are living in the camps setup by the government, while rest of them have become guests of the common people in various cities of North West Frontier Province.

That is why we decided to reach out to the IDPs, people who are in the homes of others. We reached Shahbaz Garhi, a remote village near Mardan with our small truck load of relief goods, and started knocking from door to door to distribute dry edibles, mediciens, some fans, and other things.

It was during this effort that I came across, Palwasha - a beautiful sad looking teenage girl. She shyly asked me to give her some clothes, which I didn’t have but I promised her to send it through parcel, the very next day.

In talking to young Palwasha I learnt much I did not know. What the media had never told me, Palwasha revealed between her tears and anger.

Palwasha was living in a small village near Charbagh area with her three sisters and parents, and all of them remained oblivious to the skirmish between government and Taliban, and perhaps that became their sin of which they paid dearly. They didn’t see any thing differnet when Taliban promised them Shariah, she said, because they were Muslims already and certainly liked to have a Muslim law. They wanted speedy justice and equal opportunities, besides they didn’t want to look like opposing the Shariah law. And so, they welcomed the Taliban.

Palwasha’s family was just yet another family from the Charbagh area of Swat, which is rich in beauty but lacks most development amenities. Her father was a miner in an Emerald mine, and when Taliban came and forced them to take their way and occupied the rich mines, the earnings of Khanzada, father of Palwasha, were slashed to less than half. As usual, the first cut the family made was to terminate the education of all the sisters, and then upon food. Things were tough, and Palwasha’s family was unable to comprehend this Talibanic Shariah.

Palwasha told me that early one morning, five Taliban came smiling to their home and one of them told her father to marry his four daughters to the four Taliban accompanying him right now. He father showed some presence of mind and instead of refusing asked one day for preparations. When Taliban came next day, the whole village opened fire at them from the rooftops, and after killing all three dozens of them, they fled the area.

According to Palwasha, that became common occurrance in the villages and even in the cities of the Mingora, where Taliban asked for forced marriages. At some places Taliban gave three choices to the family: marry the girl, furnish boy for fighting, or pay Rs. 50,000.

Palwasha got quite gloomy and said, “I have no idea when I will be able to go back to my home in Swat. Such is life there these days.”

Note: Ghazala Khan runs the blog The Pakistani Spectator, and had visited these IDPs along with her colleagues to distribute relief goods.

35 Comments on “The Tale of Palwasha and the Taliban”

  1. Atif says:
    July 21st, 2009 6:50 pm

    Thanks for bringing this story Ghazala Khan. Why are such stories not coming out of the media?

  2. Aziz says:
    July 21st, 2009 7:11 pm

    Thanks for the post. I am amazed that the father did not give in to Talibans demand. Apparently, for RS 50,000, the Taliban will spare your son. Why don’t we just pay them millions of dollars to leave every kid in Pakistan alone?

  3. A Khan says:
    July 22nd, 2009 12:26 am

    @ Aziz,
    Dear are we (as a nation) that coward that we should pay to talibaan’s (50,000) per kid for sparing our millions of sons. no brother that is not the solution. Natively I belongs to one of the victim’s area where talibaans been ruling the law and I have seen them how they been and some areas they still exist and violating the basic’s humanization law. its our government obligation to protect the civilians and nation sons because this opperation thingy should be started tackling talibaan’s from the day first, and if that should not be the case according to many of us then what is the need of feeding 5 millions defense forces as a nation??? So the fact is that government is all busy with their own ($$$) agenda which is off course not in a favor of the peoples as Palwasha or IDP’s in NWFP. this is just a one example.

    Thanks and appreciation goes to GHAZALA KHAN for bringing this matter up in media.

  4. Eidee Man says:
    July 22nd, 2009 12:37 am

    I know Aziz was being sarcastic, but I wish we could do something like that. Personally, I would have them shipped to Saudi Arabia or Egypt, to let the Arabs have a little taste of their own Wahabi medicine.

  5. Aamir Ali says:
    July 22nd, 2009 1:01 am

    There was some rare pleasing news in the domestic/foreign media some weeks ago, that Mullah FM was critically injured and close to death. Since then nothing else has been mentioned. Does anyone have any updates ? Hopefully that Mullah FM is dead ?

  6. July 22nd, 2009 3:17 am

    Atif: Blogging is the media only where these things can be brought to limelight and discussed.

    Aziz: Its not about money, its about power.

    A Khan: Yeah its the obligation of gov, but any such exists in Pakistan right now?

    Eidee: Its not just about Wahabi or any other sect, its about power and everybody is vying for it.

    Faysal: We have to rise above prayers. We have to act.

  7. Ali says:
    July 22nd, 2009 3:49 am

    @Atif:

    There are probably a million other stories like this, it’s plain foolish to expect the media to report all of them.

  8. Tariq says:
    July 22nd, 2009 3:50 am

    whistling of wind in Swat was replaced with the clanging of arms?How the rippling waters in the Swat become red with the human blood?How the rustle of leaves ,the odour of flowers,the fruit of Swat replaced with a pack of hounds and stacks of arms?
    The people of Swat were groomed by the then rulers of Swat State so differently that even most of the Pukhtons don’t consider them pure Pukhtons,the fundamental difference is the hate for arms and battles ,which distingusihes Swatis from the rest of the Pukhtuns.Even it is famous that Britishers were reluctant to get recruits from Swat for the 2nd World War,because of the peaceful nature of Swatis.
    The gradually empowered anti-State Elements(ASE) and their sudden disappearance form Swat have made major problems for the government and the whole population of Malakand Division.Now,as the IDPs started going back to the vale there are some important questions in the minds of the people.
    Are they safe?
    Will the hounds not strike back?
    Nothing could be said absolutely,the ASE have either moved out or have camouflaged themselves.The
    anti-state elements have good friends and supporters outside of the country and in Pakistan ,even in the security agencies.The elected governments both in Islamabad and Peshawar are still miles away to give a durable peace to the bereaved people of swat .Mailitary of Pakistan is delivering and doing its constitutional duty but sory to say they our Military which is headed by Gen.Ashfaq Kiyani has more taste for doing their extra-constitutional activities .Most of the people who were present in the war zone in Malakand Division are of the view that Military of Pakistan has become used to Islamabad instead of doing their own constitutional duties.
    “Do more in the right direction” instead of just “Do More” is what the peace loving people of Pakistan say and they also expect this form Americans in Afghanistan becuse untill Afghanistan is unstable Pakistan can never become peaceful.
    The “French” are still in “Portugal” and “Wellington” shoud say “Don’t halloo till you are out of the wood”
    Syed Tariq Shah
    Malakand

  9. Saba says:
    July 22nd, 2009 6:39 am

    It makes you so angry when you read something like this. The Taliban are so full of contradictions it’s ridiculous.

  10. Akshaye says:
    July 22nd, 2009 6:50 am

    Hello friends and brothers
    I am from MAURITIUS and just got here by fluke while searching for the enrapting, enchanting voice of Nayarra Noor and read about Palwasha.

    I like the open-minded article of Ghazala Khan. I would like to say thatit’s time that Pakistanis rise above emotion and live up to lofty human standards and shun off fanaticism (though I don’t want to over generalised). Being a Hindu Mauritian, we have many friends in other faiths including my good Muslim friends and the truth is that I fail to understand why there is so much hatred?

    This being said, (hoping you would understand my sincerity and point and not see this with other motives), I hope that Pakistani (InshaAllah) will take the destiny to rid the country of fanaticisms of Talibans and keep the flame of human progress and dignity with and through mutual respect, love and sharing alive.

    Long live Pakistan and its peaceful people at large and may God bless you in your noble endeavour.

  11. Zareen Niazi says:
    July 22nd, 2009 8:38 am

    Ghazala Khan should send this story to all the major news papers and media channels. So, that majority of the people should know what really are these Talibans and their distorted version of Islam.

    We should put in our best efforts to get rid of this fanaticism.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. abas says:
    July 22nd, 2009 8:45 am

    Akshaye – I appreciate your honest post and thank you for your kind words.

    Pakistanis are not jealous of India. We have seen great times as well. We have no reasons to be jealous of Indians, Hindus or anyone else for that matter. Pakistan and India are two different countries now and the less we focus on our neighbors and more on ourselves, the better for us.

    Not everyone is a fanatic in Pakistan, Akshaye. Many of them maybe religious but they are not terrorists. I can tell you what i think about my country, Pakistan, but i suggest you read Pakistan’s history yourself and then form an opinion.

    Just because bad things have happened to it does not make Pakistan or its people bad. Even in this article, you did read that Palwasha’s father and the rest did not appreciate Taliban but they fought against them and killed them. The Pakistani Army is also fighting to get rid of them. It shows clearly that Pakistanis ARE against Talibanization.

  13. coldrain says:
    July 22nd, 2009 1:57 pm

    These barbarians must be defeated. They must be kept away from the poor people of Swat.

    When the IDPs go back, the GOP, with aid from friendly countries, must make every effort to raise a massive, well equipped police force. At least 50, 000 people should be inducted. With the prevalent unemployment, it should not be hard to find volunteers. Asking reserve army men to come in is also a good idea.

    This force should be backed up by technology. The latest techniques in community policy allow people to inform the police about criminals in real time. Also, police can monitor criminal activity, look at areas of frequent incidence, and narrow down upon their targets.

  14. July 22nd, 2009 2:04 pm

    Pakistani nation took 14 years to realize that Taliban are a menace, not a blessing. Dr. Israr Ahmad hailed them to be the harbingers of Imam Mahdi… yeah right!!

  15. Musaafir says:
    July 22nd, 2009 4:34 pm

    Goes to show how much of what really matters goes untold. Thank you for updating us.

  16. July 22nd, 2009 5:31 pm

    Some comments on this from the ATP Facebook page:

    - “There is still time to follow the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s “Unity, faith & Discipline”.”
    - “i have heard other such stories but it seems that nobody cares unfortunately”
    - “first b “UNITED” thn to step 4wd…..”
    - “we r PAKISTANIES and we have to follow the the sayings of QUID-E-AZAM because he is the founder of PAKISTAN
    we r muslims but we r not following the sayings of our LORD AND PROPHET MUHAMMAD (PBUH)
    just sit by your self and think that where we r going we r fighting with our brothers and sisters what is this is this the in which our PROPHET MUHAMMAD (PBUH) taught us to live………………..!!!
    THINK ABOUT THIS……………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
    - “u r absolutely rite, untill we follow our religion completely we can not get any success”
    - “What RELIGION r we talking about the Islam of Talibaan, The Islam of the Damned Maulvi or the Islam our politicians, what brand should we follow, come on lets become Human first and them you will understand Islam as ISLAM is the religion for HUMANITY not barbarians”

  17. Atif says:
    July 22nd, 2009 6:16 pm

    Ghazala Khan,
    Can you (and others like you) put together a systematic account of how the Taliban act? For example, how they recruit men (children)? How they tax people and businesses? What their business interests are? How they interact with broader criminal elements in the society? With government? I am talking about one story at a time (like the one you mention here), with eye-witness accounts.

    There is a lot of journalistic research that is needed here.

    We desperately need a deeper understanding of how militancy permeates in the society. This work also has the great benefit of opening the eyes of the population to the true face of these so-called “jihadis”. (just imagine the shift in public opinion after the cell-video of a girl being flogged by the taliban … as they say, seeing (and reading) is believing.)

  18. razia says:
    July 23rd, 2009 12:15 am

    ALL TALIBAN ARE NOT THE SAME.

    Afghani Taliban has said there is no connection between them and the Pakistani Taliban and Taliban from swat are not the same as Taliban of south Waziristian.

    During my recent trip to Pakistan (*) I met displaced people from many villages and towns of mostly swat, some buner and deer. I met them living just outside Islamabad (Bara Koh, Satra Meel), in Attock, Swabi, Mardan (Haathia, Jallah), Tarbela, Ghazi and Hasan Abdal. I met them living in empty buildings (hospital, schools, colleges), private homes and tented camps. One thing was repeated over and over: Taliban in swat are foreigners. About two years earlier outsiders with long hairs and beards started to come into town and take over police stations. They promised nizame adle and quick justice. They also offered large sums of money and arms. Locals – poor, unemployed and some criminally minded – joined them. People in general supported them. Women donated money and even their jewelry for the cause. They also told us the Swatis are religious people, they dress modestly, observe pardah and believe in education for all. We met several female high school and college students, in various camps.

    When the so called Taliban started burning girls schools, forcing their way into the villagers

  19. ASAD says:
    July 23rd, 2009 12:16 am

    Although I think they should write more about this, the press has written about this. I remember reading here at ATP about the marriage bureaus that the Taliban were running in Swat. Merely a way to ‘reward’ the Taliban killers by forcing girls to marry them. Nothing else.

  20. Carelesscomet says:
    July 23rd, 2009 2:55 am

    Its a real eye opening story! I think now the masses in our cities should kick their supporters out. In order to save their own lives US and Afghanistan govt has diverted these monsters to our peaceful land in order to ruins our lives. Now next is Baluchistan where India is openly supporting/funding rein of terror.

  21. Aamir Ali says:
    July 23rd, 2009 10:36 am

    @Razia

    US is in Afghanistan because of 9/11 attack, which was launched from Afghanistan. So the terrorists themselves are responsible for US presence in the region.

    This myth of “foreign terrorist” is one spread by the govt and other fools in media/politics. The fact is that the vast majority of Taliban/terrorists in NWFP and FATA are locals, whether they are Baitullah Mehsud, Fazlullah, Sufi Mohammed, Faqir Mohammed, Mangal Bagh etc. These people have demonstrated repeatedly that they are trained killers and are absolutely ruthless. That is why they must be dealt with sustained campaign of force and crushed.

    Please keep your thinly disguised pro-Taliban views on the eastern side of Attock. We on the western side have suffered terribly at the hands of Taliban/Alqaeda and Jihadi savages.

  22. razia says:
    July 23rd, 2009 5:29 pm

    Aamir Ali says:

    >US is in Afghanistan because of 9/11 attack, which was launched from Afghanistan. So the terrorists themselves are responsible for US presence in the region.<

    aamir ali, do u have any proof of ur assertion, above? do u know any one who has proof, do u know if any proof was offered by any one, except that fake video of bin laden?

  23. Aamir Ali says:
    July 23rd, 2009 9:27 pm

    @Razia

    Alqaeda trained and sent the 9/11 attackers and proudly acknowledged it in multiple videos. You can read the 9/11 Commission report, or you can read the United Nations report on 9/11. It is undisputed that Alqaeda in Afghanistan was responsible for 9/11, and that the Taliban refused to give them up.

    Staying in denial will not change the truth. The US is in region because of Taliban/Alqaeda, otherwise when Mr Bush came to office he had thought Mexico was the most important foreign affairs issue for US.

  24. Iftikhar-ur-Rehman says:
    July 24th, 2009 4:07 am

    The beasts of Swat are not Talibans, this group was made up of all criminals and people who were unable to afford what others could, so they got together and under the garb of Talibans and Islam they raped Swat and looted people of their wealth, boys and girls. They are being facilitated by India and USA.
    Army and the Govt. has proofs of Indian involvement but they are not taking up this forcefully with the powers that be.Maybe they are scared!!!

  25. Akshaye says:
    July 24th, 2009 12:58 pm

    Dear Abas
    Thank you very much indeed for your comments.

    My thoughts and Dua are with the People of Pakistan for peace to come very soon. May the noble spirit of love, peace and God Realisation and Allah’s Blessings guide you in this noble path.

    Namashkar and Adab
    Best Rgds
    Akshaye (MAURITIUS)

  26. Akshaye says:
    July 25th, 2009 6:33 am

    It seems the press in Pakistan is lagging behind and Iftikhar-ur-Rehman is the master of know-it-all to cast aspersions and create tensions by blindly accusing India regarding problems in SWAT Valley. Shame for such shallow thoughts as one should not forget of Talibans attacked over the LoC and other butcherous and hideous attacks of innocents on Indian and Pakistan soils. Don’t put the blame on others when you can’t find a solution about tackling Talibanism!

    You get what you sow! Pakistan made war on India and Bangladesh and India has never attacked any countries and the problem of Talibanism is a multi-faceted problem which has its origin in Pakistan’s socio-politico problems used by dirty politicians for their selfish interest.

    I have no doubt that Pakistanis will come out victorious and not let fanatical clerics dictate the destiny of Pakistan.

    Pakistanis are good, loving, intelligent people, highly cultured and won’t let certain bigots to plunge the country in the abyss of decay and torn by fanatical wars and surely and fortunately there are less people with narrow parochial behavior like Iftikhar-ur-Rehman!

    Akshaye (from MAURITIUS)

  27. insanity rules says:
    July 25th, 2009 6:58 am

    I believe there are many stories, which do not (may not or not yet) come to light and civilization is expolited in everywhich way. In the end you don’t know, who is the offender and who you can trust- and this is sold as Islam??

    It is high time, that (not only) Pakistanis come out of this apathy of sticking their heads in the sand, till the storm passes over or just ignore cowardly what is happening around them. Ethnicity, religious sects, Taliban, feudals…… c’mon the chain of injustice always has a new name and of worst – politicians (from anywhere) and civilians are always the suffering ones, not the politicians.

    Time to stand up – don’t wait for politicians, lead and dont wait to be led!

  28. razia says:
    July 25th, 2009 1:03 pm

    The US is in Afghanistan because of alqaeda and in Iraq because of WMDs? It has nothing to do with oil in Iraq or the pipeline in Afghanistan it wants to build to transport oil from central Asia? Yeah right!

    It is undisputed that Alqaeda in Afghanistan was responsible for 9/11, and that the Taliban refused to give them up. Really? try googling 911 truth.

    Have u heard of Kevin Ryan – the UBL employee, William Rodriguez

  29. Aamir Ali says:
    July 25th, 2009 5:50 pm

    @Razia

    Indeed the 9/11 reports have challenged by many, none of whom have provided proof that Alqaeda was NOT responsible for 9/11. Blaming mainstream media and praising Google search is not going to change the fact that Alqaeda made Afghanistan its base in 1990′s, launched attacks on US assets, threatened repeatedly to attack the mainland, and did so on 9/11.

    Besides the United Nations isn’t exactly “mainstream media” and you can read its report about 9/11. But staying in denial and does not change facts.

    @Akshaye
    Taliban have never attacked across LoC, and India has always blamed every single terrorist act on its soil in Pakistan. So don’t get so unhappy that Pakistanis blame terrorism in their country on India. After all India did train and support Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan and Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

  30. razia says:
    July 26th, 2009 12:08 am

    aamir, how do u prove a negative? the onus of proof is on the us, allegation is not proof

  31. Aamir Ali says:
    July 26th, 2009 5:30 am

    @Razia

    That is why I asked you to read the 9/11 Commission Report, and the United Nations report on 9/11 attacks. All the proof you want is in there. If that doesn’t satisfy you, then you can also watch Alqaeda videos and the confessions of captured Alqaeda members, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in which they proudly claim the 9/11 attacks.

    However doing a Google search and finding a webpage that says what you desire doesn’t equal “alternative media” or an alternative theory.

  32. Meengla says:
    July 26th, 2009 9:55 am

    I agree with @Aamir Ali’s positions vis a vis both @Razia and @Akshaye.
    1) Truly, there are some questionable govt. accounts of the 9/11 attacks and perhaps even some coverups. But the most I am willing to concede to the perennial (and ubiquitous) consipracy theorists is that some ‘inside’ sources -may- have allowed the Al-Qaida terrorists to launch the attacks. Al Qaida is, without a doubt, directly the culprit behind the attacks. You may come up with ‘reasons’ for the attack and perhaps even ‘justify’ but the overwhelming evidence/confessions and subsequent acts of captures and terrorism in Pakistan point to a very strong case against Al Qaida.
    2) People like @Razia divert attention from the main focus–peace for all–by shutting their eyes to all reason on some major problems facing the world. Having been reading bloggers from Russia, America, India, Israel, and Pakistan (and other places to a lesser degree), I can safely say that there are so many in almost all cultures with conspiracy theory mindset. From the so-called UFO sightings to JFK assassination to 9/11 these people thrive in conspiracy theories like an record player (gramaphone) stuck in one track.
    3) Why would it be so hard to entertain the idea that India would not take advantage of the loss of Pakistani control in Afghanistan post November 2001 fall of the Taliban? I mean India has a perfectly ‘justified’ reasoned approach that Pakistan has been introducing ‘terrorism’ in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) since 1989. And now, since Mumbai attacks of November 2008, India has a renewed vigor to ‘avenge’ itself.
    4) A stable Pakistan -should- be in India’s own interest. But of even greater, immediate interest of India is that Pakistan be bullied into ceding the cherished Indian goal of ‘Line of Control = International Border’ solution. Yes, after that, I am almost certain India would actually follow through with its noble ‘stable Pakistan’ policy. Until then–I am equally sure–India would remain an opportunistic neighbor. To an extent I don’t blame India for that. It is in their interest. Moral questions are usually left out in such matters.

  33. razia says:
    July 26th, 2009 3:04 pm

    aamir, if u want to believe lies of the 9/11 Commission Report, and the United Nations report on 9/11, which do not address questions of the money trail, the pulverization of steel at kerosene flash point temperature, which is much lower than the melting point of steel, why building 7, which was not hit by any plane collapsed, again the list of unanswered questions is long, u r welcome. i’ll have none of it.

    and if ksm is so proud of his accomplishments why did he need to be waterboarded 183 times in one month?

    Jesse Ventura: You Give Me a Water Board, Dick Cheney and One Hour, and I’ll Have Him Confess to the Sharon Tate Murders

  34. July 26th, 2009 4:38 pm

    We request commenters to please review ATP comment policy. Comments that are tangential to the topic of the post or repetitive will be delated.

    If someone has not bought your argument after repeated attempt, either they are unwilling to accept your argument or you are unconvincing in the argument you are making (or both). In either case, they are unlikely to change their mind just because you repeat the same argument again.

    Please assist us in respecting other people’s time and bandwidth.

  35. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    July 27th, 2009 2:41 pm

    *grin*. I know writing anything “against” can make your nights restless but still..why so much scared?

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