Militants who have seized control of large parts of Pakistan's Swat Valley are issuing "wanted lists" for four dozen people they plan to bring before makeshift sharia courts for summary justice.
In one of his notorious radio broadcasts, Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah named politicians and government officials "wanted" by the militants.
"These people encouraged military operations in the area and are responsible for the killings of Taliban and civilians," said the cleric.
The creation of the list is the latest threat from militants who have gradually spread their control over more than three-quarters of the Swat Valley, one of Pakistan's most celebrated tourist areas. In recent weeks, their brutality has increased with a series of public executions and the issuing of a number of edicts. Some 180 girls' schools have been set ablaze, while Sunday was the deadline set by the militants for all men in part of the valley to stop shaving and begin growing full beards.
A spokesman for the Taliban, said the wanted list was drawn up following a meeting or shura chaired by Mr Fazlullah. "All of them will have to appear before the Taliban court, or they will face action," Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Swat Taliban, told The News newspaper.
The list is made up of local and provincial politicians and officials. Topping the list is Afzal Khan Lala, a veteran politician and member of the Awami National Party, which heads the provincial government.
The 82-year-old, who has been attacked by militants several times, recently vowed to remain at his home in Drushkhela, in the valley, rather than relocating to either Peshawar or Islamabad for safety, as many have done.
At the time, he said: "I have asked the governor of North West Frontier Province to provide arms and support to the people of Swat, to help them fight back and protect themselves against the militants? They need help to gather courage and fight." Those who have dared stand up to the Taliban in part of Pakistan once famed for its orchards and trout fishing, have been treated brutally, and usually in a very public fashion intended to deter others. A local tribal leader, Pir Samiullah, who was killed after he and his followers confronted the militants at his home in the village of Mandal Dag, was exhumed and his body strung up in a public square. Those of his followers who refused to indicate where his body had been buried were beheaded.
In the face of the militants' seemingly irresistible domination of the valley, located in the North West Frontier Province and just five hours from Islamabad, the army has boosted the number of troops in the area.
Yesterday, the military launched a series of assaults on several militant strongholds in the valley. Yet local residents and politicians, forced from the area by the militants' threats, say not enough is being done.
Local officials said that a curfew had been imposed in an attempt to try to help the troops impose law and order. "A curfew has been imposed ... for an indefinite period," said a statement by the local government.
"Anybody violating the curfew will be shot on sight. No vehicle is allowed tomove in these areas," it said.
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