- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006

KARBALA, Pakistan — A steady flow of bodies being returned to Pakistan has prompted tribal elders to appeal to intelligence agencies and religious leaders to stop sending young men to fight coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“We have made it known to the military intelligence and the mullahs that we want them to stop sending our youths to their deaths,” said one tribal leader from the province of Pishin in Baluchistan.

His sentiments are echoed by a growing number of secular-minded politicians from the Pashtun tribal belt that runs from Baluchistan to the North West Frontier Pro-vince.

Karbala, a town in Pishin, is favored as a recruiting area by the Taliban because many of the religiously conservative locals belong to tribes that span the border. This month, five families from Karbala said religious leaders were responsible for the deaths of their sons.

The 20-year-old grandson of Sayyad Dost Muhammed went the way of many young Pakistani militants. “Qari Asadullah was one of five boys from the village who went to Afghanistan five months ago without their families’ knowledge,” Mr. Dost Muhammed said. “We heard that all five had been killed.”

Mr. Asadullah and his four friends had graduated from the local madrassa and headed to a more radical school in Karachi, from where they went to Afghanistan.

Karbala has four madrassas, all linked to the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI), a party that governs Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province and that has historic links to the Taliban.

During a recent visit to Britain by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a leaked document drawn up by a think tank with purported links to British intelligence suggested that Pakistani military intelligence was funnelling support for the Taliban through the JUI.

Maulana Mohamed Noor, a JUI member of Pakistan’s national assembly, denied that his party offered material support to the Taliban. “We offer only moral support and our prayers,” he said.

The bodies of 18 Pakistanis killed in fighting in Afghanistan were returned yesterday to the Pakistani tribal agency of Waziristan, where a deal between tribesmen and the government is supposed to have stopped fighters crossing the border.

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