MIRAMSHAH: Irked by hoisting of national flag by tribesmen in Miramshah and Mirali as a proof of their allegiance to the state in order to escape bombings, the banned militant group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has said that it is responding by hoisting black flags.
People in Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, said on Friday that sale of the national flag had increased as more and more people in the town, adjoining villages and Mirali wanted to hoist it to demonstrate their allegiance to the state and escape bombing.
“The sale of Pakistani flag has increased and we also have hoisted one on our rooftop,” a resident said. “Big flags on high masts can be seen everywhere,” he said.
But the move has irked the militant group which criticised what it called “weak-hearted Muslims” for using flags as a “defence” to ward off bombing and vowed to counter it with black flags with the Kalma inscribed on it, terming it a “battle of the flags”.
In a message posted on a militant website, IMU’s Abu Ibrahim said local tribesmen frightened by army attacks and bombings by military planes and helicopters and artillery had begun hoisting the national flag on roofs of their houses.
“We still have not understood how effective this ‘defence system’ is against bombs and rockets,” he said.
The IMU, comprising militants from Uzbekistan and of Turkic origin, has its main base in the town of Mirali.
It has released statements and videos on the aftermath of military action in the town’s main bazaar and nearby areas.
The action prompted local tribal people to leave for other places, while others who could not do so started hoisting Pakistani flag to ward off air strikes.
He even took a swipe at a “commander of the local people in Taliban clothing” for suggesting to the IMU to remove the black flags from the market.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2014