Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Swat Side Effects


The Times has a heartbreaker this morning in "From Pakistan, Taliban Threats Reach New York," which discusses how Pakistani Taliban in Swat target families with relatives in New York.

Speak out against the Taliban, or just demonstrate you have a steady income, and Taliban sympathizers in New York drop a dime on your family back home. Now you're on the hook for a handsome ransom to be sent or carried back to the old country on your next visit.

Bad enough that the Taliban, having discovered that operating on the Afghan-Pakistan border (within Predator range) is a bad idea, have taken their show into the next set of valleys east. Worse that Taliban mischief has already wrecked domestic and international tourism to Swat, formerly known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, reducing incomes and reducing contact with the larger world. And worse still that Islamabad is caving to the Swat Taliban in precisely the same way that it did with NWFP and FATA Taliban last year:

You fellas go ahead and enforce shari'a law, we take no interest unless you attack government forces.

All that's missing from this depressing script are the attacks on government forces, which should start around this time tomorrow. And then Islamabad will come in and messily kick the Taliban in the teeth, after which the bad guys will simply start over again in another set of valleys.

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