Militants’ threats shut video shops to give way to ‘Islamic business’

http://www.dailytim es.com.pk/ default.asp? page=2007\125\story_ 5-12-2007_ pg7
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<http://www.dailytim es.com.pk/ images/2007/ 12/05/20071205_ 03.jpg> *
Businessmen say shops closed after police expressed ‘helplessness’
* Govt official says militants planned to tighten noose around Peshawar till
June 2008

PESHAWAR: Two men were seen busy putting up a white-coloured banner with
announcements in blue, green and red to mark an end to the “business of
movies” on Tuesday and the start of “Islamic” business in Fawad Plaza on
main University Road.

“New businesses, God willing, will soon be inaugurated, ” the banner read at
a former digital versatile disc (DVD) shop that had closed a few months ago,
as threatening messages were taking heavy psychological toll on local
residents. Several businesses of audio and video compact discs have been
shut down following a campaign by the sleeping cells of Al Qaeda-linked
militants.

Owner of the shop confirmed the shutting down of his business. “I do not
want the neighbouring shopkeepers to get hurt because of my business.” He
was the second businessman to have decided to close the business in the same
market. V-den, another decades-old shop with a huge collection of movies,
was the first to pull curtains on the CD business. There have been several
bomb attacks on CD shops across NWFP and the main market of CD business in
Nishtar Abad in Peshawar has recently experienced the explosion that killed
one person.

V-den, centre of English, Indian, Pakistani old and new movies, was launched
some 22 years ago when movie-lovers were less in number, but the V-den
changed local residents’ taste by attracting them to classical movies.

“We have shut down the business after threats,” Rafique Khattak of V-den
told Daily Times. The collection of movies is all set to vanish that took
more than two decades to make, he added.

Along with the V-den, the owner has also closed A-den, the audio shop, and
C-den, the CD shop, and both entrepreneurs are pondering a business of
either garments or medicines.

Police helpless: The shopkeepers did not give up continuing their business
until the local police expressed “helplessness” to protect them against any
possible attack from militants. “We went to the local police and they
disappointed us by saying that we better close down our business if there
was a direct threat,” the DVD shop owner told Daily Times. Police, however,
cited its problems in protecting the businessmen. “Everyone is seeking
protection, but we do not have the required number of policemen to provide
it,” Nisar Khan, station house officer at the University Town Police
Station, told Daily Times.

“I am also under threat because of police uniform. What should I do? Should
I leave the police or fight back?” he said, adding that he had asked higher
officials to look into the shortage of police personnel in Peshawar.

Militants surrounding: A senior government official said sleeping cells of
militants had set June 2008 as the timeframe to tighten the noose around
Peshawar, which is likely to come under attack from the south and north, as
pro-Taliban militants have made their presence felt as close to Peshawar as
30 kilometres.

He said the previous government of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and Islamabad
were informed about the situation in Darra Adam Khel in south and Mohmand
Agency in the north of Peshawar.

“Our good luck is that the Taliban have not yet made ground in west (Khyber
tribal district), otherwise, Peshawar would have been surrounded from three
different directions and it would have been extremely difficult to defend
the fort from the three-pronged attack,” the official added.

But tribal sources in Bara, Khyber tribal district, said the Taliban had not
given up efforts to “create space” to threaten Peshawar from the west. They
said the Taliban wanted to block the international highway to cut off
Pakistan from Afghanistan. iqbal khattakAlert

 

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