Friday, April 24, 2009

A Chilling Look at Pakistan

From Behind The White Coat:

The Swat Valley is one of Pakistan's most lush, picturesque and culturally rich areas. It is to the north of Islamabad, and holds Peshawar to the West. At one time, it was the most popular tourist destination in the country.... Now, however, there are no tourists going to Swat, and that's because it is essentially under the control of the Taliban. The militant forces of the Taliban have fought through the Pakistani forces, in months of bloodshed to aquire control of the region.

They have even forced the Pakistani government to concede into allowing them to practice Islamic Law - or Sharia, in the region, which was granted as part of a cease fire to avoid more bloodshed. They have pushed it even farther now, by using their cowardly yet successful strategy of targeting the poor and uneducated. They have continued to exploit the class rift that exists in Pakistan by concocting a bloody revolution in Swat by recruiting the lower classes to turn on the wealthy and forced out all the landowners who held the power in the region. Now with the installment of Islamic law, they pretty much can jail or even execute anyone they want if they deem them un-islamic, so nobody is in a hurry to try and get back to the region...

So wait a minute now... Are we saying that Swat has basically become a Taliban-run region? Well essentially, yes... Going through areas in Swat these days could compare to the Taliban-occupied times of Afghanistan... And the fingers of the Taliban continue to creep through the sands of the land, scooping up more and more support from local regional people--who really don't know any better. With U.S. missle strikes taking out civilians along with their Taliban targets, recruiting the local people for their cause is easy when it is primarily billed as a war against America and the West, and ridiculous claims that it is God's will. They take advantage of the people's poverty, suffering, and losses, and sadly, it works very well. There was a
great documentary that a friend of mine worked on that aired on Frontline on PBS (link). In it, they show first hand accounts and stories from people and children and even Taliban in the Swat region. It shows life existing for these people under the Taliban rule, in a chilling environment of fear. Taliban propganda blaring on the radio, patrols, zero women's rights, executions, etc. Watching it will make you angry--as they bomb schools within the region, and banish any sort of education but their own, smiling and speaking and preaching their ways as if it is the only possible truth. Seeing the young kids that are being provided an "education" by the Taliban at one of their many maddrasses, telling us how they one day hope to join the Taliban's war against America, and how they would feel honored if chosen for a suicide bomb mission. Watching those young boys, you can already see the emptiness growing in the place where the soul is supposed to grow. Now taken over by the clouded vision of the Taliban, molesting the word of God and the way of Islam into a twisted vehicle of terror. The ones who oppose the Taliban and hope for a different future remain quiet, and can only pray that things will change. It really makes you sad knowing this is happening like wildfire, and we can do little about it.