Pakistan: Extortion networks linked to armed organisations fighting in neighboring Afghanistan are reportedly collecting extortion money from local truck drivers in the name of ‘Afghan Jihad’ in the city of Peshawar, a report in BBC Urdu said.
The report says that much of the law and order has been restored in Khayber Pakhtunkhuwa province and tribal areas following Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad by Pakistani military, and the security situation has significantly improved. However, the incidents of extortion involving armed groups have increased during this time.
On a daily basis, an average of about 100 to 200 trucks carrying goods go to Afghanistan from Pakistan from the crossing in Peshawar. Most of the trucks are carrying fruits and vegetables.
According to the BBC report, militants linked to Afghan Taliban as well as Pakistani militant organisations are collecting as much as Rs 5,000 from truck drivers to allow their goods into Afghanistan. Those who refuse receive death threats. Those collecting extortion money claim that the money is intended for ‘Afghan Jihad’ and is distributed among relatives of Afghans who have been killed during the war.
The BBC report also claims that trucks transporting cements from Pakistan to Afghanistan are also targeted for extortion money. The report further says that those who have refused to give money in the past were detained in Afghanistan and sometimes their goods were taken away from them.
The report further says that those who pay the extortion money are given a receipt by the Afghan Taliban which allows them to move freely through Taliban check-points in Afghanistan.
The local truck drivers and the bus stand in-charge say that Pakistani authorities are mostly helpless because the trucks have to pass through many areas in Afghanistan that are under control of the Taliban, where they also collect extortion money from Afghan locals.
The BBC report says Afghan Taliban have denied taking extortion money from civilians.
Previously, in a book titled ‘Inqilab-e-Mehsud’, the Pakistani Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has openly admitted that much of their funds were raised by taking extortion money, bank robberies and ransom money.
Enterprises, journalists and researchers can request a full copy of the TTP book ‘Inqilab-e-Mehsud’ by sending an email at firstname.lastname@example.org