Why did the Taliban in Swat exhume Pir Samiullah’s body? Because Pir was from Barelvi sect!

Why did Swat militants exhume Pir Samiullah’s body

Friday, December 19, 2008
by Delawar Jan

PESHAWAR: The exhumation and hanging of Pir Samiullah’s body at a square after his killing petrified the already terrified people of the militancy-plagued Swat valley, but the militants instead of repenting the act threatened to hit every person supporting the existing system in Malakand division.

Pir was already a ‘persona non grata’ for the militants for being the member of Barelvi school of thought, but he invited the militants’ wrath after challenging them.Pir was killed during a fierce gunfight between his followers and the militants on December 13. The militants, who had also taken his 200 followers hostage, did not know about the killing of Samiullah as they thought he might have escaped.

“When found involved in an attack on our fellow’s house, our fighters besieged and finally entered his Darbar (house) after a clash. We searched the premises for Pir but did not find him and concluded that he had escaped, burning 15 houses owned by him and his followers. However, we exhumed his body when, a day later, we came to known about his killing and secret burial. Actually, he was not properly buried but was stuffed in a hole while still dressed in Shalwar,” a source among militants told The News.

The militants cannot tolerate opposition to them and any person who dares to do so would meet the same fate, was the real message the militants wanted to convey to the people by humiliating the body of Pir.

A senior commander of the Swati militants while explaining why they were so angry with Pir said that he was a Mushrik (the one who ascribes partners to Allah) besides fighting with Taliban militants and being loyal to the government.

“Fighting against Taliban is fighting against Qura’an, an act that we will not be tolerated. He was fighting against us at the behest of the government. Not certain personalities, but all those who support this (the existing) system will be hit irrespective of being a politician, a cleric or my own father,” he said, adding they hanged the body of Pir to make him an example for others – the practice, according to them, is being done in certain countries.

To a question regarding people’s criticism of the incident, he said it was not the first incident in the country as bodies had also been exhumed officially.The commander claimed that they had recovered Indian currency and 50 Kalashnikovs from the premises of Pir’s house, which showed that he was taking assistance from India. “We have a recording of it,” he insisted.

However, another militant source said Pir drew the militants’ ire when he attacked Bin Yameen, a top Taliban commander. “He was going to Mandal Dag to get a treatment from a Hakeem but Pir thought Yameen and our fellows were going to attack him, prompting him to attack them. We killed four followers of Pir while suffered the destruction of a vehicle.

However, we settled the issue through a jirga but Pir was not sincere and joined hands with the government against us,” he said. He said their investigation of a hand grenade attack on the house of a Taliban militant in the Mandal Dag area, a few days before Eidul Azha, found Pir’s involved in the incident. “Then we decided to handle him and stormed his house, resulting in his killing,” he added.

On October 26, the militants killed 12 jirga members in Gwalerai for holding a jirga against Taliban, and hanged the bodies to ‘teach a lesson to others.’ The security forces encouraged Pir to raise a force against the militants but did not come to his help, as usual, when he was under attack from the militants, further denting public trust in them.

Belonging to Barelvi school of thought, Pir Samiullah, 30, had generated a controversy a few years ago which resulted in the killing of a person, forcing his followers to build a separate mosque and a house for him in the area.

Followers from various parts of the country, including Dir, Chitral, Bajaur, Punjab and Sindh provinces, visited him. Pir had passed his secondary school certificate examination from the Labat Government High School. He had three wives.

He challenged the powerful militants a few months ago and raised an armed lashkar against them on October 10. He lost his brother in the first encounter with Taliban combatants and was killed himself in the second. The militants buried him at an unidentified place ostensibly to stop his followers from building a shrine onto his grave.



Taliban desecrate body of slain opposing tribal leader

By Bill RoggioDecember 17, 2008

The Taliban have defeated the primary tribal opposition organized against it in the insurgency-wracked district of Swat in Pakistan’s northwest. The leader of the tribal resistance was killed and two of his aides were beheaded last weekend after the Taliban overran the region controlled by the opposition.

Pir Samiullah, a rival tribal and religious leader opposing Mullah Fazlullah’s forces in the Matta region of Swat, and eight of his followers were killed in a Taliban assault on Dec. 16. Two of his aides were subsequently beheaded in public, while an estimated 40 of his followers have been captured. “The Taliban also torched the houses of Samiullah and 15 elders of his group,” Daily Times reported.

After Samiullah was buried, the Taliban returned, dug up his body and hanged it in public. The Taliban made an example of Samiullah and those who oppose Fazlullah’s rule.

Samiullah was the first tribal leader in Swat to raise a lashkar, or tribal army, to oppose the Taliban. He claimed to have organized more than 10,000 tribesmen to oppose the Taliban and protect 20 villages. Samiullah and his followers are members of the Gujjar community, which is a group distinct from the dominant Pashtun tribal confederations that support the Taliban.

The Taliban targeted Samiullah and his tribal lashkar in late October. Fazlullah’s forces killed seven members of Samiullah’s tribal council and took more than 60 hostage after an assault on a tribal meeting.

The Pakistani government has been courting the tribes to support the efforts to take on the Taliban in the tribal areas and in the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. Tribal lashkars have been formed in Peshawar, Swat, Dir, Buner, Bajaur, Khyber, and Arakzai. The Taliban have ruthlessly attacked tribal groups organizing resistance.

The Taliban hold an advantage over the disparate tribal groups in organization and fighters. The Taliban are organized throughout the tribal areas and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province, while tribal resistance groups operate independently. The Taliban “out-number and out-gun [resisting tribal groups] by more than 20 to 1,” a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal in October. And the tribes receive little support from the government and military. In many cases, they do not want government assistance.

Background on the fighting in Swat

Pakistani forces have been fighting forces aligned with Mullah Fazlullah, a radical cleric of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law). Fazlullah wields considerable power in Swat.

The TNSM is known as the “Pakistani Taliban” and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent more than 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001.

Fazlullah merged with Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, in December 2007.

Fazlullah has successfully organized anti-polio vaccination and anti-girls’ schools campaigns throughout the region. The Swat region has been a safe haven and training ground for the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda.

The military began operations to clear the Taliban in Swat and neighboring Shangla in November 2007 after Fazlullah’s forces overran the district. The military claimed it would clear the Taliban from Swat by mid-December 2007, little more than one year ago.

After a half of a year of brutal fighting, the government negotiated a peace accord with Fazlullah in May 2008. Fighting restarted in July 2008. The government said the operation would be completed by September. In a recent briefing to Parliament, a senior Pakistani general admitted Swat and Shangla are under Taliban control.

Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers and policemen have been killed in fighting in Swat since January 2007. The military has not provided numbers of soldiers killed or captured this year. The Taliban have destroyed more 125 schools in Swat over the past year.

Swat was once Pakistan’s vacation paradise, rich with golf courses, hiking trails, a ski resort, and archeological sites. The fighting has destroyed Swat’s tourist industry. Fazlullah’s forces have burned down the ski lodge and bombed the lifts.

(From the Long War Journal)