By Pamela Constable and Haq Nawaz Khan
Washington Post Foreign Service
GOLRA, Pakistan, May 6 — Hajji Karim and his extended family of 70 were camped in a dirt-floor stable 10 miles outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. It was as far as they could get from the Swat Valley, where thousands of people are fleeing from the ravages of the Taliban and the imminent prospect of war with government forces.
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. Continue reading
Jewish denial during the war is perilously instructive for Pakistan today: a country where the founding spirit of justice and democracy is blighted by falsehood and fear. Small wonder that last month, Prime Minister Gilani virtually ignored the seditious speech of Sufi Muhammad
Noted Saudi novelist Turki al Hamad’s novel, Kharadib, has sold over 20,000 copies in the Arab world since publication in 1999. Al Hamad continues to live in the Saudi capital Riyadh, despite fatwas of Saudi clerics against him, and Al Qaeda branding him an apostate.
The reason? Hamad’s teenaged protagonist in the controversial novel dares to ponder the question of God and the devil. Continue reading
By Eric Margolis – 3rd May 2009
PARIS — The Taliban are coming! The Taliban are coming!
French troops in Afghanistan were just rocketed by Taliban.
Last week, a bunch of lightly-armed Pashtun tribesmen rode down from the Malakand region on motorbikes and in pickup trucks and briefly swaggered around Buner, only 100 km from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
Hysteria erupted in Washington. Hillary Clinton, still struggling through foreign affairs 101, warned that these scruffy tribesmen were a global threat. Continue reading
by Lisa Curtis
Pakistan is in the midst of rapid political shifts that are challenging the leadership’s ability to maintain cohesion within the country and even raising ques tions about Pakistan’s ability to survive as a viable nation-state over the next few years. Pakistan has long suffered from ethnic and sectarian divisions. However, the recent threat from a well-armed and well-orga nized Islamist insurgency pushing to establish strict Islamic law in the entire country, beginning with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), adds a new and more dangerous dimension to the country’s chal lenges. Although the collapse of the Pakistani state may not be imminent, as some have recently argued, the government’s surrender of the Swat Valley is a major victory for Islamist extremists seeking to carve out pockets of influence within the country. Continue reading