Home » Latest World News, Pakistan » Taliban cut hair and beards to flee army assault

lady shavingHundreds of Taliban fighters rushed to disguise themselves with new haircuts in the weeks before the launch of the North Waziristan operation, it has emerged, as refugees revealed details of life under the militants – and their taste for imported luxuries.

Azam Khan was one of the top barbers in Miramshah until he, like nearly half a million others, fled the long-awaited offensive unleashed by the military on the tribal area in June.

He told AFP his business boomed in the month leading up to the army assault as the militants sought to shed their distinctive long-haired, bearded look.

“I have trimmed the hair and beards of more than 700 local and Uzbek militants ahead of the security forces’ operation,” he said while cutting hair in a shop in Bannu, the town where most civilians fled.

For years he cut Taliban commanders’ hair to match the flowing locks of former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud, killed by a US drone last November, but in May a change in style was called for.

“The same leaders came asking for trimming their beards and hair very short, saying that they were going to the Gulf and wanted to avoid problems at Pakistani airports,” Khan said.

Even Uzbeks and Tajiks with little knowledge of the local language came to him, he said.

“Knowing little Pashto, they used to utter four words: ‘mulgari (friend), machine, zero, Islamabad’,” said Khan — asking him to shave their beards to nothing so they could go to Islamabad.

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