Taliban militants in the lawless tribal region of Pakistan reportedly hanged a woman yesterday whom they accused of being a spy for the United States. Militants there have killed many men whom they said were spying for the US, but this is apparently the first woman killed for allegedly being a spy. Experts in the region say that the allegations were very likely not true.
"It would be extremely difficult for the US or even Pakistan's intelligence agency to cultivate a female asset in Bejaur," said Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at the Rand Corporation.
The Pakistani woman was reportedly hanged in the Bajaur tribal district. A note left at the site reportedly said the woman, who was not identified, had been punished for spying on Taliban members and running a brothel.
Fair said the real issue is that the killers will likely never be brought to justice.
"It doesn't matter whether she was a spy or not or a prostitute or not. The point is she was killed and no one will be brought to justice," she said.
"This is an extension of the lawlessness the Islamist vigilantes are allowed to foster. We'll never know the real reason behind her death or who killed her because this will never be investigated," Fair said. Fair said that most women in the region cover themselves completely, according to Islamist law. She said many women have been killed in "honor killings" for bringing shame on the family.
The Pakistan Ministry of Interior spokesman who handles the Northwest tribal regions of Pakistan could not be reached for comment.
A Pakistani military official who asked not to be identified said that in a region where men are not even allowed to shave their beards, it is hard to believe a woman was running a brothel. "That does not make sense," the official said.
He added that this incident has nothing to do with the Pakistan military because the region is controlled by militants.