Taliban advancing deeper into Pakistan: NYT

April 17th, 2009 - 11:38 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban New York, April 17 (IANS) The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants, says the New York Times.
The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week, the influential US daily said Friday in a report from Peshawar citing government officials and analysts there.

“And it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan, particularly the militants’ main goal, the populous heartland of Punjab Province,” the report warned.

The Taliban’s ability to exploit class divisions adds a new dimension to the insurgency and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal, the daily said.

The Times cited analysts and other government officials as warning that the strategy executed in Swat is easily transferable to Punjab, saying that the province, where militant groups are already showing strength, is ripe for the same social upheavals that have convulsed Swat and the tribal areas.

The Times cited Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American lawyer and former classmate of President Barack Obama as saying: “The people of Pakistan are psychologically ready for a revolution.”

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions that have long festered in Pakistan, he said. “The militants, for their part, are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling,” he said, “They are also promising Islamic justice, effective government and economic redistribution.”

The Taliban strategy in Swat, an area of 1.3 million people with fertile orchards, vast plots of timber and valuable emerald mines, unfolded in stages over five years, the Times said citing unnamed analysts.

The momentum of the insurgency built in the past two years, when the Taliban, reinforced by seasoned fighters from the tribal areas with links to Al Qaeda, fought the Pakistani Army to a standstill, a Pakistani intelligence agent who works in the Swat region was quoted as saying.

Since the Taliban fought the military to a truce in Swat in February, the militants have deepened their approach and made clear who is in charge, the Times said.

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