Pakistani Taliban threaten Kalash tribe, Ismailis in Chitral

Published February 12, 2014
A Kalash school teacher  writes letters from the Kalasha alphabet on a blackboard during a lesson at the Kalasha Dur school and community centre in Brun village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley. — Reuters/File Photo
A Kalash school teacher writes letters from the Kalasha alphabet on a blackboard during a lesson at the Kalasha Dur school and community centre in Brun village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley. — Reuters/File Photo
The militants have announced an “armed struggle” against Kalash tribe, Ismailis calling on Sunnis to support their cause in a video. – File Photo
The militants have announced an “armed struggle” against Kalash tribe, Ismailis calling on Sunnis to support their cause in a video. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban have announced an “armed struggle” against an indigenous tribe and Ismaili Muslims in the picturesque northern Chitral Valley, calling on Sunnis to support their cause in a video.

The valley was once dominated by moderate Ismailis and is also home to the Kalash, a polytheistic people who claim descent from Alexander the Great and who have maintained separate cultural traditions to the predominantly Muslim country.

But migration in recent decades has meant that Sunni Muslims are now the majority in the area, while the Kalash way of life has come under threat by the Taliban, who have also carried out a number of attacks against security forces in the area.

The Taliban's 50-minute long video released on February 2 on their media wing's website opens with a scenic view of the mountainous valley that is popular among domestic tourists and famed for its annual polo festival.

The narrator warns the Kalash, who are thought to number only 3,500, to convert to Islam or face death.

“By the grace of Allah, an increasing number of people from the Kalash tribe are embracing Islam and we want to make it clear to the Kalash tribe that they will be eliminated along with their protectors, the Western agents if they don't embrace Islam,” he says.

The video also accuses international NGOs of creating an “Israel” like state in Chitral by attempting to protect the Kalash culture and take people away from Islam, and vows to foil their plans.

A charitable organisation headed by the Aga Khan, the Ismailis' spiritual leader and a globally renowned philanthropist, is singled out for condemnation.

“The Aga Khan Foundation is running 16 schools and 16 colleges and hostels where young men and women are given free education and brainwashed to keep them away from Islam,” the narrator says.

He adds that the foundation's schools and hospitals, which are free for members of the public, are espionage tools in the hands of foreign powers.

The Kalash are also warned to stop producing wine, which they make from apples, mulberries and grapes.

“Western NGOs are promoting Kalash wine and we warn all those individuals and hotels selling it, they should stop production and selling of wine otherwise they will be sent to hell by the will of God.”

Opinion

Window of opportunity
05 Mar 2021

Window of opportunity

How do we ensure growth revival built on a sustainable, efficient and stable foundation?
March for freedom
Updated 05 Mar 2021

March for freedom

Those demanding ‘azadi’ are moving society forward.
More of the same
Updated 04 Mar 2021

More of the same

Civil society groups and political parties tend to treat their paid employees as casual labour.

Editorial

Ravi project
Updated 05 Mar 2021

Ravi project

THE assault by an enraged group of farmers on a provincial revenue team assigned to acquire land for the...
05 Mar 2021

Climate change

PAKISTAN received much less rainfall in January 2021 as compared to previous years, making it the 17th driest month...
05 Mar 2021

Antimicrobial resistance

WITH the focus on Covid-19, many health issues, though otherwise recognised as serious medical problems, tend to be...
04 Mar 2021

Senate upset

THE Senate election results have delivered a stunning blow to the PTI. While the ruling party has seen an increase ...
ME ‘security pact’
Updated 04 Mar 2021

ME ‘security pact’

THERE has been an overflowing of bonhomie between the Gulf Arabs and Israel over the past few months, much of it...
04 Mar 2021

Students’ protest

A GROUP of university students in Karachi and Hyderabad caught the media’s attention when they announced a...