KHAR, Dec 26: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan on Friday distanced itself from a decree allegedly issued by the Taliban in the conflict-hit Swat district that set a deadline for closure of girls’ educational institutes in the district, and said they were not against female education.
TTP spokesman Maulvi Mohammad Umer told media people on phone that they were in touch with leaders of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat and hoped that they would revoke their decree of closing down educational institutes.
Two days ago it was reported in a section of the press that a leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat, Shah Duran, had warned on an FM radio station that female educational institutes should be closed before Jan 15, 2009, otherwise the institutes would be targeted.
However, a spokesman for the militants in Swat, Muslim Khan, gave conflicting statements on the issue as to some newspapers he expressed ignorance about any such a decree and to others he owned the decree.
Maulvi Umer said they were concerned over the threat to girls’ schools and were in contact with their colleagues in Swat for convincing them to rescind their decision.
He said they were not against health centres, hospitals and educational institutes and only targeted those institutions where army men were stationed and were used against the Taliban. He said they only wanted girls to acquire education while observing proper veil.
Maulvi Umer said they would also constitute a committee for probing the issue.
Our Peshawar Bureau adds: NWFP Minister for Information and Transport Mian Iftikhar Hussain has reaffirmed the pledge of the provincial government to strive for dialogue and reconciliation with those who wanted peace and laid down their arms, so that law and order could be maintained and lives and properties of people protected.
“The elements imposing restrictions on girls’ education are really disobeying the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) because education is compulsory for both men and women according to the teachings of Islam,” he said, in a reference to the Swat Taliban.
Speaking at a gathering on the inauguration of reconstruction of the Government Girls’ High School in Pabbi on Friday, he said safeguarding lives and properties of people was the foremost responsibility of the government. Therefore, he added, the government would utilise all its resources in this connection and establish its writ.
The minister said the provincial government was making efforts to hold talks with militants, but if the negotiations were not successful, the government would not hesitate to use force to ensure the safety of the lives and properties of people, according to a handout.
On this occasion, he said the federal government had been contacted for provision of gas to the area and progress had been made in this regard. He hoped that gas facility would be provided to the people of the area soon.
SPORTS MINISTER: Provincial Minister for Sports, Culture and Tourism Syed Aqil Shah has congratulated the newly-elected president, secretary and other office-bearers of the Sarhad Sports Writers Association.
In his felicitation message, he hoped the office-bearers would use their capabilities to promote sports in the province and would continue their cooperation with the NWFP Olympic Association and the NWFP Sports Board.
Mr Shah, who is also president of the NWFP Olympic Association, assured his cooperation to the office-bearers and hoped that the association would make efforts to ensure successful holding of the national games in Peshawar next year.