First Published : 15 Apr 2009 01:35:11 AM IST
KABUL: The pair were shot dead in front of their village mosque as their villagers looked on in south western Afghanistan, a district official said.
Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district of Nimroz province, said the girl, called Gulsima, had been unhappily engaged to marry when she fell in love with Aziz, aged 17.
The pair attempted to escape the village of Lokhi and planned to head to Iran and marry, but were captured by villagers and dragged back.
After two days of deliberation, a council of elders had been unable to decide how to resolve the dispute, Mr Noorzai said.
Half the elders favoured some way of allowing them to marry, while the other half favoured execution.
As the council was deadlocked, local Taliban militants stepped in, overruled village religious leaders and declared the lovers must be executed, he said.
Ghulam Dastageer Azad, governor of the province, said the execution was an "insult to Islam".
Nimroz, a sparsely-populated, desert province on the borders of Iran and Pakistan has little or no Afghan government or foreign presence.
Taliban militants rule large swathes of the province with impunity and dispense justice based on their own interpretations of Sharia law and tribal code.
Abdul Jabar, police chief of the province, admitted he had no police stations in the district and said and many of the fighters who summarily judged cases were themselves often no more than 18 or 19.
Across the border in Pakistan, a deal to allow Sharia law in the Swat valley has seen Taliban militants hold public executions.
Mobile phone footage appearing to show a 17-year-old woman being publicly flogged for adultery in the valley sparked international outrage earlier this month.
Under Pashtunwali, the tribal morality code in southern Afghanistan, relations between unmarried or unrelated members of opposite sexes are strictly regulated.
Extrajudicial "honour killings" are also practised by families who believe a relative has brought them shame, including by refusing to marry a chosen partner.
The Taliban swept to power in the mid 1990s by offering strict justice and Islamic order after years of chaotic rule by predatory and rapacious warlords.
Their travelling justice commissions continue to settle disputes in much of the lawless south where the government has no power and traditional tribal power has been eroded by decades of war.
I think this is a mischief by Sree Ram Sene activists who have infiltrated into Taliban ranks to malign it with this kind of cruelty. The Taliban is a secular force as every Indian secularist knows. They would not stoop to such atrocity.
Indian feminists should call the lie and expose the Sene role. They should lose no time in collecting more pink chaddies for the Sene.