Taliban militants from Pakistan's Swat Valley are tightening their grip on a neighboring northwest district closer to the capital — patrolling roads, broadcasting sermons and spreading fear in another sign that a government-backed peace deal has emboldened the extremists to spread their reign.
Pakistan's president signed off on the peace pact last week in hopes of calming Swat, where some two years worth of clashes between the Taliban and security forces have killed hundreds and displaced up to a third of the one-time tourist haven's 1.5 million residents.
The agreement covers Swat and other districts in the Malakand Division, a huge chunk of Pakistan's northwest that borders Afghanistan and the tribal areas where al-Qaida and the Taliban have strongholds. Under the deal, the provincial government agreed to impose Islamic law in Malakand, and the Taliban agreed to a cease-fire.
Supporters say the deal will allow the government to reassert control by taking away the militants' rallying cry for Islamic law.
But critics, including U.S. officials, have warned that Swat could be the first domino to fall to the Taliban — and that Islamabad, capital of the nuclear-armed nation less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away, could eventually follow.
Just in case I'm the first to point out the flaw, I'd like to mention that giving the jihadis Islamic law obviously takes away their rallying cry to achieve Islamic law. But what's the point? Of course the Taliban types will stop shooting (for a bit) if you give them what they were shooting to achieve! Is this concept too difficult to grasp? I mean, it's like an alcoholic eliminating that craving for alcohol by drinking a fifth of vodka.
We cripple our intelligence agencies and our enemies gain sanctuaries.
What could possibly go wrong?