Some of the stories coming out of the Taliban occupied parts of Nothern Pakistan are shocking:
When Taliban fighters first entered Karim’s village last month, he recounted, they said they had come to bring peace and Islamic law, or sharia, to Swat. But the next day, two of the fighters dragged a policeman out of his truck and tried to slit his throat. Horrified, a crowd rushed over, shouting and trying to shield the officer. The fighters let him go, but the incident confirmed the villagers’ worst suspicions.
“We all said to each other, what sort of people have come here? And what kind of sharia is this? Cutting off people’s heads has nothing to do with Islam,” recounted Karim, 55, a bus driver. “The people were filled with great rage, and great fear.”
As the refugees begin streaming out of Swat and the neighboring Buner district in northwest Pakistan, they carry with them memories of the indignities and horrors inflicted by occupying Taliban forces — locking women inside their homes, setting donkeys on fire — as they tried to force residents to accept a radical version of Islam.
Lectures from the West about the dangers of islamic extremism, and the horrors the Taliban were likely to inflict, had not been believed, and were only causing further resentment of the US and its allies. Orders to the government of Pakistan were even worse.
Tragic as it has been, the people of Pakistan needed to see for themselves just how vile and violent the Taliban are.
Resistance to incursions by islamic extremists will only be successful if it comes from, or is at least supported by, local people. That resistance is off to a powerful start.
If powers outside Pakistan attempt to force the Taliban out, the result will be chaos – and deeper anger and mistrust towards the West.