Thursday, April 23, 2009

Taliban, Again

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has noted the once-again-growing power of the Taliban:

Pakistan's strategy of trying to appease Taliban militants is showing signs of backfiring, as extremists move within 60 miles of the capital and threaten to spread their influence throughout the country.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Wednesday that Pakistan's government is "basically abdicating to the Taliban" by agreeing to let them implement Islamic law in the Swat region last week. Instead of putting down their weapons, as the government had hoped, the insurgents have since moved fighters into the neighboring Buner region, local lawmaker Istiqbal Khan said.

There are two possible ways to interpret the Pakistan government's conciliatory move: Either the militants got what they wanted (a rigidly fundamentalist misogynist theocracy in a small part of Pakistan) or they got what they wanted (a sign that the government is weak and that it will hand over the rest of the country soon enough). So it's a win-win game for the Talibanis.

But not for the people they will try to squash into an impossible mold:

The militants in Buner also are using radio airwaves to broadcast sermons about Islam and have occupied the homes of some prominent landowners, said a police official who insisted on anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation. He said the militants also have warned barbers to stop shaving men's beards and warned stores to stop selling music and movies.

The consequences for women are much more severe than not having access to music or films, however. They are going to be prisoners in their own homes. Or rather, the homes of their owners.