Islamabad, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Taliban commander in the Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan has warned that all co-ed schools in the area must cease the practice of educating boys and girls together by 5 January, or else face severe consequences.
Taliban commander Haji Gul Bahadaur issued this warning in a pamphlet distributed throughout North Waziristan, while the warning was also broadcast from loud speakers of all mosques in the area. The pamphlet threatened both public and private educational institutions in North Waziristan that practice co-education.
North Waziristan locals informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the schools were warned to cease implementing the co-ed educational system by 5 January, or else face severe action from the Taliban militia. As a result of this warning the local population of North Waziristan and school administrations have come under increased pressure to abandon the co-ed educational system.
The tribal areas of Pakistan are a strictly conservative society where gender segregation is firmly observed. However at the primary school level, girls and boys study in the same classes.
North Waziristan is currently under the control of Taliban-affiliated militia, the strongest group of which is the Hun Gul Bahadaur group.
The Pakistani government control over the situation in North Waziristan has considerably weakened after Pakistani troops halted operations against the Taliban following a peace deal with the local Taliban commander. Although the Pakistani army still has a sizeable presence in North Waziristan, they are not actively engaged in operations against the Taliban at this time.
These same pamphlets also banned women from obtaining National Identity Cards from the National Database and Registration Authority [NADRA]. The Taliban-issued pamphlet warned the female population of North Waziristan that they would face punishment under Islamic Shariaa law if they were caught visiting NADRA offices.
A NADRA official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that their office in North Waziristan had recently received 300 female applications to obtain national I.D. cards.
The Pakistani government has recently initiated a financial assistance program known as the Benazir Income Support Programme [BISP] for low income groups in the country. In order to qualify for BISP Pakistani citizens must be in possession of a national identification card.
“This is precisely the reason why we have been receiving so many applications for the National Identity Card in North Waziristan” commented a senior official in the NADRA office in Islamabad.
The Taliban warned the people of North Waziristan that they would be constantly monitoring the NADRA offices, and any woman caught visiting there would be severely punished in accordance with Islamic Shariaa Law.
Experts say that the reason for the Taliban banning women obtaining national identification cards is due to their aversion to photography.