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article imageTaliban threatened to kill women shoppers in Swat

By Subhabrata Das     Mar 18, 2009 in World
“Who wants to be beheaded first?”— This is the warning from Taliban for women who dare to go for shopping in Pakistan’s Swat valley region, where Taliban has already imposed a number of restrictions on local women dwellers.
Taliban’s restrictions on women in Swat valley in Pakistan has adversely affected the daily business of the Cheena market — once the busiest in Mingora city. Many shopkeepers have their stores glittered with various attractive ladies items, but they do not have a single female customer to buy them. Even after almost one month of the peace-deal between Pakistan government and the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) in Swat Valley, women still afraid to go for shopping.
The Taliban in this region had imposed restrictions on females from going to markets and schools for education. After TNSM’s chief Sufi Muhammad have convinced his son-in-law — Taliban leader Fazlullah to sign the peace agreement, girls are reportedly back to the school. But, Taliban has still restricted women from going to bazaars for buying cosmetics and other ladies accessories.
Ikramullah Khan, a shopkeeper of the Cheena Market, reportedly said: “Business has still not returned to normal despite a marked change in the situation.”
Another shopkeeper said he is not making any profit after Taliban has banned women from going to markets.
On March 8, a bearded man, who the shopkeepers believed to be a Taliban, reportedly pulled out a dagger in a shop and said: “Who wants to be beheaded first?” This threat is enough to frighten the women customers making them disappear from the market place.
Local shopkeepers are quite annoyed with Taliban’s new brand of Islam, as it is making their business suffer. Bakht Rawan, who has spent 15 years in Saudi Arabia as a salesman at a cosmetic shop, does not believe it to be a proper “Islamic law.” He said: “If shopping by women was forbidden in Islam, Saudi men would not have allowed their women to go to bazaars. I wonder why these (Taliban) people are offering a new brand of Islam to the people of Swat.”
Earlier in January, Taliban had reportedly banned women from “Women’s Market” in Mingora city, displayed posters reading “women are not allowed in this market” and ordered the killing of women seen in market areas.
This ban badly affected local shopkeepers who deal with women garments and cosmetics. Due to plummeting sales most of the shopkeepers have failed to earn the minimum amount to pay the rent and electricity charges of their shops.
Taliban has reportedly compensated the affected shopkeepers by reducing the rent. Bakht said: “The rent of each shop has been reduced by Rs 400 after the Taliban forced the market owners to slash the rent to help us make up for the loss because of the slump in business due to the ban on shopping by women.”
From Tuesday, Islamic law judges have reportedly started reviewing the cases in Mingora city and the Pakistani officials are quite hopeful that new religious court would give them relief from numerous draconian rules imposed by Taliban.
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