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Pakistan assures Ismailis, Kalash tribe against Taliban threat

Updated February 21, 2014

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Chitral Scouts, Police, border police, elite force and Pakistan Army troops have been deployed on all borders and are on a red alert to meet any challenge in Chitral. – File Photo
Chitral Scouts, Police, border police, elite force and Pakistan Army troops have been deployed on all borders and are on a red alert to meet any challenge in Chitral. – File Photo

CHITRAL: In the wake of recent threats to Ismaili community and Kalash tribe by Taliban, a grand peace jirga (conference) was held at Bumborat in Kalash Valley on Friday to address concerns of the communities.

The meeting was presided over by Commandant Chitral Scouts Col Naeem Iqbal and was attended by Deputy Commissioner Chitral Muhammad Shoaib Jadoon, District Police Officer Ghulam Hussain and Major Murtaza as well as elites from Kalash, Ismaili and Sunni Muslim communities.

The picturesque Chitral Valley in northern Pakistan 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.

In a 50-minute long video released on Feb 2 on the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) media wing's website, the militants had announced an “armed struggle” against the Kalash and Ismaili Muslims. The narrator warned the Kalash, who are thought to number only 3,500, to convert to Islam or face death.

Addressing to the jirga, Col Naeem Iqbal said that Chitral Scouts, Police, border police, elite force and Pakistan Army have been deployed on all borders and are on a red alert to meet any challenge.

He urged the locals to not take the threat seriously as the video released by the Taliban was not new and made in 2011. He said after the matter was projected in the media, prompting the Supreme Court of Pakistan taking a suo motu notice.

Following the media report regarding the Taliban’s threat to Ismailis and the Kalash tribe, Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani took the notice on Thursday.

The apex court said the hearing of the suo motu notice would be held along with the Peshawar church attack case.

People belonging to Kalash tribe, Sunnis and Ismaili Muslim community said that they were confident of the capability of the security forces and hoped that they will be protected by the LEAs.

They demanded from the government to construct roads and give better facilities to local residents of the valley. They also demanded the authorities that a preference should be given to the locals in the recruitment in border security forces, police and Chitral Scouts.