The Polytheistic Kalash Tribe in Pakistan Threatened by Taliban

Pakistani Taliban have just made an announcement of an "armed struggle" against Ismaili Muslims and a native tribe in the scenic northern Chitral valley. In a video, they have called on Sunnis for supporting their cause.

In Chitral valley, there once lived only the moderate Ismailis and the Kalash, a tribe of polytheistic people claiming to be the descendants of Alexander the Great. These people have maintained their own cultural traditions in an Islamic republic. However, migration in the last few decades has led to a majority of Sunni Muslims in the area, and the Kalash tradition is now under threat from Taliban who have already also carried out several against the security forces here.

This 50-minute video from Taliban, released on February 2nd, opens with a picturesque view of Chitral valley, which is famous for its scenic beauty among domestic and international tourists and for a polo festival that is annually held here. The narrator in the video warns Kalash, who probably number to 3,500 only, to become Muslims or be ready to face death.

The narrator in the video claims that a growing number of individuals from Kalash tribe have already embraced Islam and Taliban want the Kalash tribe to know that they along with their protectors from West will be eliminated if they don’t embrace Islam.

In the video, international NGOs have also been accused of developing an Israel-like state within Chitral by trying to protect the culture of Kalash and take these people away from the Islam. A charitable organization headed by Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismailis and a well-known philanthropist, is chosen for condemnation in the video.

When talking about this organization, the narrator says "The Aga Khan Foundation is running 16 schools and 16 colleges and hostels where young men and women are given free education and brainwashed to keep them away from Islam,". He further adds that the schools and hospitals run by foundation are free for public members, and are the surveillance tools that work under foreign powers.

The speaker in the video also warns Kalash to stop the production of wine, which they produce from grapes, mulberries and apples. He further says, "Western NGOs are promoting Kalash wine and we warn all those individuals and hotels selling it, they should stop production and selling of wine otherwise they will be sent to hell by the will of God."