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KABUL – Yet again, the Taliban have shown that nothing Islamic or Pashtun is sacred.
The militants have long attacked Islamic shrines, mosques and funerals, showing little regard for Islamic values. Now another instance of the Taliban attacking Pashtun culture and traditions has occurred.
Afghan police in the eastern province of Laghman recently arrested seven Taliban militants, two of whom were wearing women’s clothing.
“These individuals were involved in conducting terrorist actions, as well as planting roadside mines,” said Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang, the provincial police chief.
Afghan security forces received tips about the militants’ whereabouts, found their hideout and raided it in a joint operation of police and national security forces, Sarjang told Central Asia Online. They were arrested in Qarghayi District.
“Two of these individuals, who were planning to hide themselves among the ladies by wearing women’s dresses, were identified and arrested,” he said. “The interrogation process has been started, in order to identify and arrest any other members of this group,” he said.
Disrespectful toward women
When the Taliban put on female garb, the Afghan people consider it an insult to women.
"This act is disrespectful toward women and women's clothing,” said Ahmadullah, a resident of Laghman Province. “These individuals should be punished severely and become a lesson for others.”
The ruse of dressing as women likely appeals to militants because women generally endure fewer bodily searches than men do, given the respect for women’s privacy rights. However, frequent militant use of this trick could end that relatively privileged situation for women, analysts warn.
The Taliban have no respect for Afghan culture and traditions and hesitate at nothing to achieve their goals, Afghan analysts argue.
"Our opponents have made a mockery out of everything we have,” said Gardizi.
They don’t even attempt to win heart and minds, he said.
The Taliban also have besmirched the tradition of wearing turbans by using the headdress to hide bombs.
Last July a suicide bomber detonated explosives hidden under a turban at a mosque in Kandahar as mourners paid tribute to Ahmad Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai who was assassinated by his own security guard.
Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hameedi fell victim July 27 to a suicide bomber who hid explosives under his turban.
Afghan High Peace Council Chairman and former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed by a vistor with a bomb hidden in a turban.
Exploitation of women’s dress
Exploiting women’s dress to hide from authorities is a relatively new Taliban tactic the militants use in targeting Afghan and international forces, though this is not the first case. In December, Balkh police arrested a Taliban commander who was disguised as a pregnant woman.
Taliban militants also use local police and army uniforms to carry out their missions.
The militants have lost the military capability needed in order to continue fighting face to face, leading them to use disguises, Afghan military officers and coalition forces have said. Among them is Abdul Ghaffar Gardizi, a military analyst and former Afghan military officer, who said the Taliban have been reduced to guerrilla tactics.
Taliban mentors teach recruits to use these tactics against Afghan and international security forces in order to create challenges for them, he added.