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When it is the entirely righteous anger of ordinary people at pointless violence, and the distortion and corruption of their faith.

Pakistani villagers enraged with the Taliban after the bombing of a mosque battled the militants on Monday, underscoring a shift in public opinion away from the hardline Islamists.

The Taliban have stepped up bomb attacks and are suspected of being behind a suicide blast at a mosque in the Upper Dir region, near Swat, that killed about 40 people on Friday.

Outraged by the attack, villagers formed a militia, known as a lashkar, of about 500 men and began fighting the militants on Saturday in an bid to force them out of their area.

A February pact aimed at placating the Taliban in Swat by introducing Islamic sharia law sailed through parliament with only one or two voices of dissent.

But much has changed since then…

A Taliban push into a district 100 km (60 miles) from Islamabad, a widely circulated video of Taliban flogging a teenaged girl and the Islamists’ denunciation of the constitution as “unIslamic” have sharply shifted public opinion.

All that is good. But many in Pakistan still see the Taliban as their Islamic brothers, and a less important enemy than India, the US or Jews.

Pakistan must, and the rest of world must help,¬†reassure, resettle and rebuild, where the battle with the Taliban has caused death and loss of homes and livelihoods. If we do not, the tide of feeling¬†will turn against Pakistan’s government and the West, as quickly as it now seems to have turned in favour.

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