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Taliban flaunt power in Pakistan's Swat Valley

Special to Globe and Mail Update

'They have committed so many atrocities that they can't give up power, they would not be safe.' ...Read the full article

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  1. Ocean Xpress from NCC land, Canada writes:
    I would desperately hope Mr. Escobar is right:
  2. John Savard from Edmonton, Canada writes: It is a tragedy that Pakistan is in a position it must negotiate a truce with the Taliban. I am surprised that the U.S., Canada, Britain, and other democracies around the world aren't already conscripting armies large enough to wipe out both the Taliban and al-Qaeda to the last man - with or without the cooperation of Pakistan's government. Terrorism must be brought to an end.
  3. Don Quixote from the wet warming Blackfly Belt, Ont., Canada writes: The talibans basically are well organized bands of invading robbers and vandals under religious disguise, it has nothing to do with either Islam nor is it in the Name of Allah, it is just lust for domination and power of a selected few spilling lives of hundreds of thousands.....
  4. Avtar Wasson from Canada writes: You may recall Mullah Omar, Taliban leader of Afghanistan, had an air-conditioned stable for his horses while he preached austerity and average Afghan had nothing. Same is true of Taliban in Pakistan. The sad part is Pakistan government has allowed growth of Taliban and tolerated Taliban of acquiring sophisticated weapons. Now the Pakistan government wants Western help to suppress Taliban. It also reminds me of Red Mosque situation in Islamabad last year. The Ghazi brothers had stored sophisticated weapons in the Mosque just from a stone's throw from Military Headquarters. To add insult to injury the army refuses to fight as it does not have night vision goggles and the govt. is giving the impression that it is doing it on behalf of Americans rather than their own national interest. One wonders how this is going to end!!!
  5. Malone Sumself from Canada writes: Perhaps we should try to speak to these people and discuss the problems around womens rights. A dialogue should be brokered. Perhaps its just a misunderstanding and Jack Layton can smooth things over. Maybe all those anti-Afghanistan folks can offer some ideas on how to help the women and children of this region overcome the Taliban / Extremist Islam influence.
  6. Jesu Pifco from Canada writes: The Stalinists, The Maoists and The Nazis are in good company, be it in the name of god, the name of the of the people, or the name of fatherland. Bank robbers, rural bandits, street thugs, and now more rural bandits. An insane case of "hysteria repeating itself". (bitter pun intended)
  7. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes: Oh, this one may take the cake.

    Avtar Wasson writes: "You may recall Mullah Omar, Taliban leader of Afghanistan, had an air-conditioned stable for his horses while he preached austerity and average Afghan had nothing."

    Hmmm. I can't say that I do recall that.

    On the other hand, here's a verified statement from Mullah Omar, given in an interview to the Voice of America in late September, 2001.

    "VOA: Do you know that the US has announced a war on terrorism?

    Omar: I am considering two promises. One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that my land is vast. If you start a journey on God's path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected... The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled."
  8. stan unknown from wpg, Canada writes: Yep, send Layton
  9. Warren Reinhart from London, Canada writes: We owe an apology to Pakistan and many other countries surrounding Afghanistan.

    What I cannot recall is the successful and stable establishment of a constitutional republic, where there was none before, by military force while remaining 'culturally sensitive'. In Japan the Americans overturned both the political and religious system of the entire nation, I would recommend the same for Afghanistan. South Africa became democratic because of economic pressure, that is perhaps another option.

    We need to ally ourselves with the citizens of both Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to undermine the support or fear (depends who you ask) that the Taliban hold. Furthermore, we must understand that it will take a long time to ensure stability in the area, forget 2011, think 2025 or 2035 and a whole lot more money. The median age in Afghanistan is about 17, we need to let the half of the population that are still minors know that we didn't just destroy, shoot and leave, otherwise we will only create another generation of terrorists.

    I was against the invasion of an autonomous state in 2001, but now that we have initiated this action we must see it through to the end and fix any damage as a result of our invasion.
  10. Hmmmer ? from Canada writes: Every single Taliban should be hunted relentlessly and killed on sight!

    They are a scourge upon this earth and nothing more than heartless murderous thugs.

    Sharia law should be banned everywhere and anyone practicing it should be imprisoned for life. It is nothing more than torture enforced by men and used mostly against women.

    That kind of behaviour should never be given sanctuary in the guise of any religion.

    Just yesterday or the day before Taliban murdered a Dutch engineer by cutting his head off. No chance to fight or run, hands tied, legs tied, fully aware, some kind of saw or knife or machete and it's done.

    That's enough for me to say, kill all Taliban, now!

    Hmmmer. Things that make ya go, lock n load.
  11. Steve is a warmongering neanderthal and loving it! from Canada writes:

    Quickest ways to deal with the Taliban .....

    1. Spike the water with alcohol.
    2. Let the pigs loose.
  12. Frank Lee My Dears I Don't Give A Damn from Toronto, Canada writes:
    A spokesman for the Taliban in Swat, Muslim Khan, is quoted as saying. 'Democracy is a system of European countries. It is not good for muslims' Their ambition is to create a calphate that engulfs the entire muslim world. And, their dream is for the rest of the world to become muslim.
    Yet, interestingly, they rail against the Saudis, and other non-democratic middle eastern states. I guess the Taliban would like to control the oil, as well as the poppies.
    Being true religious zealots and fascist to boot, the hypocrisy of taliban is obvious. The old 'Do as I say' instead of 'Do as I do' variety of hypocrisy.
    The myth of the 72 virgins waiting for martyrs in paradise was actually created by Abdullah Azzam. a muslim brotherhood scholar, fund raiser and toady to Bin laden. He said; 'Lucky him who is rewarded with martyrdom. Allah rewards him with 72 virgins and he can choose 70 of his relatives to join him in heaven'.
    Another hypocrite, safe in his cave while others fight his battles.
  13. Frank Lee My Dears I Don't Give A Damn from Toronto, Canada writes:
    Nice one Steve. How about;

    3. Overdose them with heroin.
  14. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Appeasement has never worked and will not work in Pakistan. Neither the hardline Taliban nor Al-Qaeda have any interest in a negotiated settlement other than to gain time to expand their hold in Pakistan and prepare for the summer attacks on Afghanistan. The people in Pakistan have not had the same experience as the Afghans so far on a broad scale or they would not be so likely to accept Taliban rule.

    One reason the Pakistani army has been less than successful is that they are really not supported by the government - especially when it comes to civilian casualties. Although a minority would prefer to settle for Taliban rule, the majority don't and those who can have fled. The locals in Buner fought back for quite a while only giving up because of the lack of support from the government. The Pakistani army knows they need to greater firepower to defeat the Taliban and foreign fighters but that involves greater risk of civilian casualties which is not supported by the government.
  15. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    "The Pakistani army knows they need to greater firepower to defeat the Taliban..."

    ROFL. The Pakistan army has 600,000 active soldiers, plus 500,000 in reserve. The weapons the Pakistan military currently brings to bear on the Taliban include F-16's, attack helicopters, armoured tanks and vehicles, self-propelled howitzers and a vast array of other artillery. The Pakistan army has every conceivable light weapon one could need to deal with an insurgency, along with the best general combat equipment money can buy. So far the Pakistan government has not deployed their surface-to-surface missiles or nuclear weapons against the insurgency.

    The Pakistan Taliban? AK-47's, RPG's and cell-phones. Plus, a certain 'je ne sais quoi'- likely to include something along the lines of guts and an undying hatred of their corrupt government.

    By the way, the Pakistan military are not shy about the destruction they cause to civilian areas while fighting the Taliban. For verification of that reality, take a look at the 3 minute video the Pakistan Army have on their website at:

    It's of the current fighting in Bajur, and it looks serious. Note the announcers comments about "destroying anything the Taliban could use for cover, and burning crops."
  16. Hagigi Reebadaris from Flin Flon, Canada writes: Let's try diplomacy. Gun boat diplomacy!!
  17. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: The Pakistanis have not always used their big guns or airpower against the Taliban because of the heat they have taken over civilian casualties. Yes they have the weapons but, they have also been criticized for causing civilian casualties and so have made limited use of them in some areas. Of course, Roskell, you know all about everything they do anytime, anywhere.
  18. The Central Screwtinizer from Ottawawa, Canada writes: I don't know why they just don't use CL-415 water bombers and bomb them with liquid pig dung...that might put a crimp in their actions...think outside the box lads. I recall reading an excerp from the time the British tried to rule them hills in the 19th century. One of their methods involved letting starving wild pigs have their way with Talibaner types if they would not cooperate. Its just not cosher to end up 'pig dung' anyones mind for that matter.
  19. john chuckman from Canada writes: 'They have committed so many atrocities that they can't give up power...'

    No more atrocities, I'm sure, than the United States has committed in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

    We must never forget that 3,000 Taleban prisoners disappeared in the early days of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.

    They were driven out onto the desert in sealed vans to suffocate; their bodies dumped in mass graves.

    It just doesn't get much worse than that.
  20. R Wolovet from New York, United States writes: John Chuckman, I don't believe your story about Taliban death in vans at the hands of Americans. What is your source? You never heard anything worse than that? How about 3,000 dead via hijacked airplanes in New York, Washington and a small town? How about beheading Richard Pearl, a reporter, on TV? How about condemning women to miserable lives and early deaths. They can't study to be doctors. They can't be examined by male doctors. So they can't be treated medically. Who cares? With four wives, the men can just add a newer and younger one to replace the one who died. You would like some genteel treatment of these death dealing, culture destroying barbarians who won't educate their children? Girls get none. Boys get Koran and glorification of martyrdom. G-d help us!
  21. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    R Wolovet, are you interested in your own "beliefs" or are you interested in reality?

    There are many sources available on the internet and elsewhere concerning the massacre of Taliban prisoners by US Forces and Northern Alliance soldiers during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

    Try googling "taliban prisoners", "massacre at mazar" and "Jamie Doran documentary film".
  22. Bob A from Ontario, Canada writes: If the Pakistani government is serious about bringing stability and peace to their country then there is only one solution, stop trying to appease these fanatics and task the military with the job of completely wiping them out. That is the only way to deal with these lunatics. Any aid to Pakistan should be contingent not only on such a move but also on the repeal of sharia law in the Swat Valley.
  23. Al Walsh from Canada writes: Richard Roskell:
    you must be referring to the massacre in 1988 by the Taliban in Mazar i Sharif.
  24. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    That's an unusual post coming from you, Al. While you don't often offer the whole story, you usually get the bits you do state correct.

    I'm referring to the massacres of Taliban prisoners by US Forces and Northern Alliance soldiers in November, 2001 in northern Afghanistan. When several hundred Taliban prisoners rioted in their prison, (they objected to the US Special Forces and their treatment) the prison was bombed into rubble by US warplanes. Fewer than 100 Taliban prisoners survived. Eventually those survivors and many other Taliban prisoners (reported numbers vary, but possibly thousands of them) were loaded into sealed shipping containers and transported across the desert for several days by US and NA soldiers. Their remains were eventually discovered by international humanitarian workers.

    The event you may be thinking of happened in 1998, when the Taliban reportedly massacred two thousand people in Mazar-i-Sharif. There's very good reasons to believe that happened, and the reason why is that it was a retaliation for the two thousand Taliban soldiers who were slaughtered in Mazar-i-Sharif the year before- even though they had entered the city under a flag of truce.

    Context: always important, wouldn't you say, Al?
  25. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: As long as they are associated with Al-Qaeda they are not likely to give up. Mullah Omar is not likely to be interested in a negotiated peace that doesn't really mean everyone else capitulating to the Taliban. Al-Qaeda needs this win even more than the Taliban. NATO needs to make both of these countries secure but when they continue to bicker among themselves it makes the situation difficult. Despite the fact that everyone know this situation cannot be allowed to continue because of the threat posed by Al-Qaeda - it seems that everyone wants someone else to bear the cost. They have to get the situation under control this year - in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our troops need to watch their backs and be careful where they walk because the Taliban will likely be throwing everything they have in their arsenal at them. Stay alert and stay safe CF.
  26. Al Walsh from Canada writes: Richard Roskell: well, i don't have time to lay out all the details all the time..context is always important as it frames events. Unfortunately, you either a)provided incomplete context or b)provided no/incorrect context..

    In brief:
    The events in 1988: the reason for the massacre was partially as a retaliation and also because there were Shiite ethnic groups in the region, whom the Taliban do not consider true Muslims.

    The events of Nov 2001 do not clearly indicate a massacre. As I'm sure you are aware, the captured fighters "revolted/resisted" and were armed. The uprising lasted 7 days with intense fighting..
  27. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes: Al, the Taliban did not exist in 1988. You are probably referring to events which happened ten years later.

    Claiming the Taliban acted as they did in M-i-S partially in retaliation and partially against the Hazara in general is speculation which makes little sense. Number one, the Taliban went into the city the year before, amongst the Hazara, under a flag of truce. Number two, if the Taliban were acting against the Hazara as you describe, why didn't they kill them all? Instead, the Taliban retaliated by killing the same number of people (including many Hazara) as the Hazara et al had murdered the year before.

    In no sense do I condone what the Taliban did, but by Afghan standards of the time, the Taliban acted with restraint... as bizarre as that may sound. (For example, compare the siege of Kabul by Afghan warlords five years earlier, prior to the Taliban.)

    All that has nothing to do with the events under discussion, which occurred three years later during the American invasion. Furthermore, there are two separate incidents. The first occurred when the Taliban POW's revolted in their makeshift prison. They captured some light weapons but were completely contained and could not escape the prison. Nevertheless, they were bombed and killed by the hundreds.

    The second incident occurred when the surviving prisoners, along with many more who were captured later, were loaded into sealed shipping containers and driven around in the desert for a few days. There is no record of any of them surviving. What about all this doesn't qualify as a "massacre" in your mind?
  28. Mike Sharp from Victoria, Canada writes:

    You know, I'm a little intrigued by this "not having to shave" thingy.

    I'm not much into stoning my wife but not shaving?

    These Taliban.
    What a bunch of rascals.

    What will they get up to next?
  29. Jeff T from the place liar roskell ain't, Canada writes: LOL thank you liar lil dick roskell for illustrating so elequently whcih side of the fence you sit on. Enjoy life in the employ of the apostate terrorist douche bags you love so much, and please, feel free to follow your convictions to the nature brave conclusion which you lack.
  30. Geoffrey May from Canada writes: In Pakistan , as in Afghanistan , the Taliban's greatest ally is the USA.Those posting for miltary action against the Taliban missed the most significant parts of the article .One, the people do not support the Taliban , Two, when the army took on the Taliban , they killed more people than the Taliban had .So if the West acted unilaterally , or succesfully presure the Pakistan government to use miltary action, the likely result would be growth in support for the Taliban ,resulting from civilian casualties and providing further evidence that the government of Pakistan was anti-Islamic .This is what happened to allow the Taliban its past successes .
    It is a great shame , that with all we should know about the weakness of military power , that in cases like this , that so many see it as a solution, instead of the core problem .
  31. Al Walsh from Canada writes: Richard Roskell:

    My apologies. I did not realize you were discussing the convoy. I presumed you were discussing the events at the prison.

    Regarding the deaths of Taliban/Qaeda prisoners at Dasht-i-Leli, I can only state that their are conflicting reports regarding the number and the cause of the prisoners death. Involvement of US special forces remains unsupported. Nevertheless, I await the investigation (that will never take place). There was an article in newsweek from back in the day, which interviews Robert Pelton (canadian reporter) that does not corroborate Doran's account.

    Regarding the Taliban and the Hazara. the events took place in 1998 as you stated (i'll blame fatigue for my mental block). There are numerous examples of incitement against the Hazara by the Taliban and the new governor of the region Nizi (and likely vice-versa). They were considered infidels by the Taliban. I don't know why the Taliban didn't kill all the Hazara people, but I'm sure they would have gotten around to it if the Hazara refused to convert. I'm certain nobody acts with restraint in Afghanistan and while I despise the Taliban, I have no love for any of the other fanatics (with guns) in that amazingly screwed up place.

    Regarding the bombing of the prison: firstly, the taliban had more than just light weapons (you can read an article in time). "The Taliban fighters, trapped in the southwestern quarter of the fort, stormed a nearby armory, making off with AK-47s, grenades, mines, rocket launchers, mortars and ammunition)." Unless, you consider those light weapons. While, I have no doubt that the N alliance ended up killing many unarmed Taliban, I am also certain that the battle was fierce.
  32. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes: Hi Al, thanks for your informed reply. Your points in order:

    1. In my post at 4:05, I explicitly mentioned the convoy in which many (possibly thousands) of Taliban POW's perished in sealed shipping containers that were being driven around in the desert. As far as I know, there are no confliction about what the weight of the evidence points to. Not all reports describe the same manner in which the Taliban prisoners were executed: some say most prisoners died from suffocation and heat; some say most prisoners died from soldiers firing their weapons into the containers.

    Here are some things Robert Pelton (the journalist you cite) had to say:

    Regarding the prison uprising- "PELTON: Well, Walker had been in [the prison] basement for seven days and they had dropped bombs on that bunker. They had thrown shells down there. They threw grenades. They poured gasoline and lit it. And finally they poured in freezing cold water. He sat in that water or stood up in that water for 20 hours while other people drowned. He then decided to give himself up."

    Regarding the general conduct of US Forces and the Northern Alliance during the invasion- "PELTON: I mean you're looking at thousands of [Taliban] fleeing in panic... I was aware of much of the combat operations that went on. They were hunted down mercilessly and they were killed. There were very few prisoners taken in the first two months of the combat.

    I thought Robert Preston's journalism from that time was fantastic. He would be the first to point out to you that he wasn't present for either of the massacres of Taliban prisoners, nor did he investigate it. But his interviews with a prisoner who was at the prison uprising certainly corroborates the reports of the treatment meted out to the Taliban POW's.

    Continued below...
  33. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    2. No problem on the fatigue thing; I've often made similar mistakes.

    As a strong supporter of Israel and its military policies against the Palestinians, you will undoubtedly recognize that there can be a significant difference between what those who are 'under the gun' (so to speak) say about their situation, and what those with the big guns say about it. With that reality in mind, let's consider the Hazara/Taliban situation.

    The Hazara are a Shi-ite Muslim minority in a predominantly Sunni Muslim land, that is further divided by intense tribalism. The persecution of Hazara in Afghanistan long, long predates the Taliban. As a more recent example, consider the sieges of Kabul during the 1992-1994 civil war, when non-Taliban warlords raped and pillaged (literally) the Hazara districts.

    The Shi-ite Hazaras in Sunni, tribal Afghanistan always faced the threat of minority persecution.

    When the Taliban arrived, did persecution of the Hazara increase? Not according to the weight of the evidence. Credible reports by international human rights organizations describe some incidents of persecution, of which the event at Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 was by far the worst. There was no genocide against the Hazara by the Taliban. There was no ethnic cleansing. There was, in fact, nothing as bad as what happened to the Hazara during the civil war, which the Taliban put an end to.

    Under no circumstances am I making light of any persecution or brutality that the Hazara suffered in Afghanistan, either at the hands of the Taliban or anyone else. But as do many who are (or feel) persecuted, the Hazara are prone to describing their plight in an amplified way. It's just human nature.

    The body of available evidence (not hearsay) points to the Hazara doing no worse, and possibly a bit better, under the Taliban than what was happening prior to them.

  34. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    3. Definitions of "light weapons" vary somewhat, but the definitions that I know of include all of the weapons you describe above. Light weapons are generally regarded as those which can be physically carried by soldiers during combat. "Heavy weapons" require vehicles of some sort to transport them. Generally-speaking, mortars and RPG's are light weapons; bombs and artillery are examples of heavy weapons.

    It's impossible to know the "fierceness" of the battle at the prison, but it was undoubtedly prolonged because one survivor- John Walker- surrendered after a week. His account of the attack methods used by US Forces and NA soldiers is mentioned above in Robert Preston's interview.

    The Northern Alliance had no aircraft, Al. The bombs were dropped by US aircraft.

    As with the Israeli attack against The Gaza last January, the bombing of the Taliban POW uprising in 2001 calls into question the humanity of the attacking force. Why was such destructive force brought to bear? Was such force necessary to achieve the objective- assuming of course that the objective was a lawful one.

    Given the nature of the attack against them, and given the subsequent slaughter of the surviving Taliban POW's along with many more of their comrades, one can readily conclude that humane treatment was not on the minds of the US and NA forces.
  35. Al Walsh from Canada writes: Richard:
    appreciate the reply. I will respond quickly and somewhat out of order for the sake of time
    1) Pelton gives a different account regarding the prisoner convoy:
    2) Regarding the prison uprising. I have no doubt that the N alliance brutalized the Taliban prisoners during the uprising. On other hand, this was not a group of prisoners interested in surrender, despite being outnumbered and outgunned. As Pelton discusses, their goal was jihad/death. They would not give up easily. Read the time magazine account of the battle:
    3) The Taliban were not good to the Hazara. We can agree on that point. Certainly, intra-Hazara squabbles also led to considerable blood shed. At the end of the day, Afghanistan was and remains a rough spot.
    4) For the record: I believe i have made it clear that I do not support all Israeli polices vis a vis the Palestinians. Overall, I support the state of Israel in its existence and struggle against terrorism. But we can discuss this matter at another time (which I am sure will arise).
  36. winston freeman from Canada writes: Mr. Roskell , and Mr. Walsh :

    I welcome your posts .

    You both seem to have some knowledge , while most others here have opinions .

    Has either of you been there ?

    I have . From Iran to Jallabad in a VW bug .

    I remember Kandahar . Even in winter , hot dust ... and in the central town square , two cannon . The British Army left them behind - in 18 hundred and something . Think about it .

    Try Google -

    " The Malakand Field Force "

    by Winston S. Churchill .

    It's a hoot , and he even mentions talibans !

    P.S. Swat in the 1970's almost got me -

    as the songs says -

    " I lay traps for troubadors ,

    who die before they reach Bombay . "
  37. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    Winston, I'm glad to hear you were one troubadour who made it out alive. I've never been to Pakistan or Afghanistan; and about the current events there I too only have opinions. I do my best to ground them in a broad sweep of reliable information, and a worthy perspective, but they're still 'just' opinions.

    Will you go back one day?
  38. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    Hi Al, thanks for your views above. At this time I have nothing further to add on that topic.

    I wasn't aware that you do not support some of the state of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. When you have the time, I would be very interested to hear which of those policies you refer to.

    I would also be interested to know whether you support the Palestinian people in the same way that you support Israel. Do you likewise support the existence of a Palestinian state and their struggle against armed aggression by Israelis?

    I note that you did not mention the term, "right to exist" when you referred to Israel. That may not have been intentional, but it's relevant to me because I do not recognize such a 'right' for any political entity, including nations. At no time in history that I'm aware has any such right existed; and it's not among the universal human rights we support today.

    Of course, people have the right to self-organize into various kinds of political entities, including nations. But that existence is mutable and conditional, always. And no political entity may legitimately persist in denying or subverting the universal human rights of anyone, in my opinion.
  39. winston freeman from Canada writes:

    Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada asks:

    Will you go back one day?

    I did ! I won a trip to wherever Air Canada flies , which got me to Bombay .

    Paid for air from there to Karachi , Lahore , Peshawar and Saidu Sharif .

    The one-time Switzerland of the east was gone .

    Something old friends called the timber mafia had made off with entire forests .

    I won't even guess how many riverside hotels had appeared .

    No sewage treatment .

    I first went there for trout fishing , but now , the Swat river is so polluted that the government has found it unsafe to use for irrigation .
    As if the local farmers have an alternative ...

    All the " progress " was owned and operated by absentee landlords ;
    and the traditional land ownership system , with its system to resolve disputes ?

    Replaced by a system created by the British Raj , modified slightly , and staffed by people " from away ". Bribes were essential , but that did not make anything move faster .

    Swat was a princely state until 1969 .
    Becoming part of Pakistan has not done much for the majority .

    I am not defending anything which the talebs have done .

    BUT - there is a saying " from the frying pan into the fire ".

    I can understand why some Swatians would make that mistake .
  40. Richard Roskell from Naramata, Canada writes:

    I appreciate that description, winston. Thanks a lot.

    In their eagerness to despise "The Taliban", few people stop to wonder why Afghans and Pakistanis join them. They think it's just religious fundamentalism which drives people to join. What's rarely recognized is that the Taliban are at least as much about social and political 'reform' as they are about religion. And no one can deny that socially and politically, both countries are in need of reform in the worst way.

    You corroborated the information I had about the Khans of the Swat Valley: powerful landowners who are laws unto themselves. Add to their corruption that of the Pakistan government. Then add in the corruption and brutality of the Pakistan military as it ran roughshod throughout the valley. It's not a wonder you didn't return to a valhalla.

    In the Swat as in Afghanistan, people join the Taliban looking for justice- even though the justice be harsh- against corruption and oppression. Gotta grow a beard? That might be a small price to pay for a chance to get out from under the corruption. Gotta keep your girls out of school? Drag, but nothing compared to having the Khan's thugs off your back.

    The US/NATO alliance will ultimately lose in Afghanistan for the same reason the US lost in Vietnam. They've chosen to fight their ideological enemy- in Vietnam it was "Communism", today it's "Terrorism"- by allying themselves to the corrupt and brutal government in the conflicted area. There's no getting the people back after you do that- their hearts and minds turn against you, even if your ultimate intentions are good.

    There are relatively few people who will fight solely for their religion. But if the enemy is oppression, corruption and injustice? Just about everyone will fight against those.

    Just thinking out loud here, winston.
  41. Catherine Medernach from Winnipeg, Canada writes: Richard Roskell ROFL "What's rarely recognized is that the Taliban are at least as much about social and political 'reform' as they are about religion." That is a hoot - social reform! destruction of society is more likely - no music, no singing, no dancing, no kite flying - no culture period. Political reform?!!!! They don't believe in politics and see no need for consultation. They believe only what they are told by the mullahs because have only memorized the Quran in Arabic which they do not understand. They are into imposing their twisted version of Islam and Sharia and destroying everything else. The elders that did not go along were murdered, 50 local government officials were beheaded and the rest fled. Support any government with them is a death sentence even if it is not corrupt - of course any who do not govern as the Taliban do automatically are corrupt. Those who were able fled SWAT which was a tourist destination prior to the Taliban - now the economy is blown.

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