May 8, 2007 2:56 pm


This is happening in a country which possesses nuclear weapons! Is anyone paying attention or are we too focused on election 2008 to care?!

KHAR, Pakistan - Some 200 gun-toting Islamist militants smashed car cassette players and mobile phone cameras on Saturday and ordered tribesmen in a Pakistani region to grow beards, part of a drive to impose Taleban-style values.

The militants took up positions beside a road near Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, and stopped and searched passing vehicles, witnesses said.

“They smashed cassette players running music and mobile phones fitted with cameras,” a driver whose vehicle was searched told Reuters.

Radical Islamists deem music and pictures un-Islamic.

The driver, who did not want to be named, said the militants also urged clean-shaven tribesmen to grow beards.

A government official in Bajaur confirmed the incident but did not say whether authorities planned any action against the militants.

Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt, bordering Afghanistan, is known as a hotbed of support for the militants and critics say the government’s influence there has weakened considerably since the authorities signed peace deals with the militants.

Progressive Pakistanis have become increasingly shocked by the boldness with which religious radicals are spreading their influence in other parts of the country and have demanded firm action by the government against them.

On Friday, militants attacked music shops with explosive devices in the town of Charsadda in neighbouring North West Frontier Province (NWFP), destroying at least five.

Last month, burqa-clad female students of an Islamic school or madrasa raided a brothel in the capital, Islamabad, and abducted three women for three days.

The top cleric of the mosque linked to the madrasa later threatened suicide attacks if the government used force to stop his movement.

Oh, yes, there is more: Pakistani cleric threatens attacks against officials

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