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The Taliban Surges in Pakistan

April 20, 2009

In the wake of the agreement between the Taliban and the Pakistani government to allow Sharia law in the Swat valley of that country, the fundamentalist Muslim group is gearing up to spread its influence throughout the whole of the country. The Washington Post has the story here. Members of the the Pakistani government thought they could defuse the influence of the Taliban by ceding this remote and lightly populated region but, as it turns out, the concession has served only to mobilize the more radical fundamentalists into pushing for a rejection of civil authority in favor of religious rule.

Provincial and federal officials also hoped their show of good faith would halt further insurgent inroads and buy time for foreign aid programs to shore up the impoverished northwest against the Islamists’ message of swift justice and social equality.

Instead, the evidence suggests that the extremist forces have drawn the opposite lesson from their victory in Swat and are gearing up to carry their armed crusade for a punitive, misogynistic form of Islam into new areas. There have been numerous reports of Taliban fighters entering districts south and west of Swat, where they have brandished weapons, bombed and occupied buildings, arrested aid workers, and killed female activists.

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