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Taliban impose ban on music in North Waziristan and Bajaur tribal areas, threaten CD shop owners, set up military checkpoints to remove cassette players from vehicles

(PPF/IFEX) - On 7 May 2007, the local Taliban Shoora (council) imposed a ban on the sale of CDs and cassettes and on the playing of music in buses and coaches in the North Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, while armed militants set up checkpoints on roads in different parts of the Bajaur Tribal Agency area, and forcibly removed tape recorders from vehicles.

The Taliban Shoora ordered owners of music and video shops in the town of Miramshah to wind up their businesses. Armed militants raided the music centres and CD shops in the town and asked the shopkeepers to stop playing music in public places. Press reports quoting eyewitnesses said militants stopped passenger vehicles on the Miramshah-Mirali road and removed cassette and CD players. The Shoora announcement said that anybody violating the order would have to face "consequences".

Earlier, on 5 May, about 250 masked men brandishing guns set up checkpoints on main roads in Baddi Saya, Kamar Ser, Umari and Tani areas of Mamond Tehsil and stopped buses and vans. Residents said that it was the first time that militants had openly operated in the area and set up check posts in the area, bordering Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The armed men removed cassette players from vehicles and destroyed them on the spot. They seized people's mobile phones, ordering passengers to remove musical ring tones from their cell phones and not to use mobile phones with built-in cameras. They also forced men without beards to get off public vehicles, warning them of "strict action" if they did not grow beards.

Earlier, a large group of people carrying automatic assault rifles had warned owners of music stores to wind up their business and the owners had started removing CDs and cassettes from their shops. Most music shops and hair-cutting salons have been closed and their owners have switched to other businesses. Some of them moved out of the agency after pro-Taliban militants bombed their shops.

Car owners and drivers of public transport vehicles have removed cassette and CD players from their vehicles and owners of music shops have closed their businesses in the towns of Khar, Inayat Kallay Bazaar, Siddiqabad, Nawagai, Raghgan, Lagharai, Loi Sam, Pashat and other areas.

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