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Talk of Taliban take over "frightening" : report

Talk of Taliban take over "frightening" : report

Author: PTI
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 3, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/173667/Talk-of-Taliban-take-over-frightening-report.html

Battle lines have been drawn between the Pakistani army and the Islamist rebels as talk of the Taliban taking over the trouble-torn country now seems to be "really frightening", a media report said today.

In a detailed despatch from Rustam in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, the 'Sunday Times' observed that the roads were filled with refugees, fleeing from the marauding Talibans.

According to the report, in Islamabad, middle-class Pakistanis have "been waking up to the possibility that wild gunmen from the hills could soon be as much a part of daily life as the suicide bombers everyone fears."

"Nobody really expects the Taliban to march into Islamabad any time soon. But since they invaded Buner, the possibility appears real," the report said.

It said "talk of the Taliban taking over Pakistan once seemed fantastical. Now it is genuinely frightening."

The report said it was only after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton castigated the "weak government" of President Asif Ali Zardari the action against militants was taken.

Many Pakistanis have drawn the conclusion that the army's soldiers, bearded and deeply religious, sympathise with their enemy.

In Rustam, a flyblown trading town, all but a handful of shops were padlocked and shuttered. A patrol of eight police commandos were lounging in the centre of the town, carefully spread out so they did not present bunched up target for a suicide bomber.

Citing an instance of Taliban atrocity, the report said: "First the strutting Taliban gunmen demanded USD 800 a month from 18-year-old Fawad ali, a dry fruit businessman.

"Then when they had drained the business of cash they decided to make a bloody example of his two young uncles who could no longer pay.

"They took Aminullah and Sajjar away to the outskirts of the village and there they beheaded them," Ali told the newspaper. "Afterwards they threw the bodies in the river.

"We have run from Swat to this new place. But now the Taliban have nearly caught up with us again."

After leaving Swat, escaping through Buner valley, the family arrived at a village near the town of Swabi, where they rented a house with what was left of their savings.

But then the Taliban advanced to within 35km of Ali's new home. Now they seem poised to spread into the fertile farmlands that lie between them and the capital Islamabad, only about 60 km away, the report said.

Ali said his family has suffered not just at the hands of Taliban but also of Pakistani security forces.

He lost 11 of his relatives in Swat in an army bombardment, unleashed after a bogus tip-off that Taliban fighters were hiding in their home.

A few days later another nine members of his extended family died, caught in crossfire while trying to escape fighting. The survivors fled, as more than half a million have in Pakistan, to become refugees in their own land.

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