Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Taliban Using Swat Emerald Money to Fund Terrorism by Ani

The money earned from mining and selling gemstones in Swat and Shangla district of Pakistan is used by the Taliban for terrorism, according to local entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs in a Gem Bazaar, organised by the Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company at Namak Mandi, said that the Taliban were using the money for terrorist activities in Swat, Buner and Dir districts of Malakand division.

Babu Khan, an entrepreneur from Swat who had displayed emeralds in the bazaar, said that Taliban had started extensive mining through hired labourers and were selling the precious stones in the black market.

He said plunderers had also taken over several mines of high quality gemstones, one of which had earned the government about Rs 90 million in a single auction in the past.

Another entrepreneur from Swat, Muhammad Ali, said that the Taliban had also taken over the Mingora emerald mine.

The Shamozai emeralds mine, and the Gujaro Killay emerald mine in the adjacent district of Shangla, are also under the control of the Swat Taliban, the Daily Times reported.

Stones extracted from these mines are auctioned in the premises of the Mingora mine every Sunday, where dealers from all over Pakistan come to shop, he said.

The federal and provincial governments have not taken any action over "this looting and plunder of state property," Muhammad Ali said.

Imran Inam, a senior official of the Gems and Jewellery Development Company, said that the US is also concerned over the Taliban occupation of emerald mines in Swat and Shangla and had talked to the Pakistani government.

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