Sunday, February 15, 2009

Taliban Cease-Fire In Swat

The Wall Street Journal reports the Taliban agreed to a ten day cease-fire with the Pakistani government. The catch is the government will impose Islamic law in the Swat Valley. This will allow the Taliban to continue to violate the the civil rights of women. 162 girl schools were destroyed by Maulana Fazalullah and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

It is unlikely the Taliban will honor the cease-fire. In 2007, 72 police officers in Swat were murdered. The Taliban are beheading those that oppose them. The Taliban control the majority of Swat and are using the valley as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan. President Asif Ali Zardari admits his government has been in a state of denial about the Taliban threat.

“It’s been happening over time and it’s happened out of denial,” Zardari told CBS, when asked how militants had secured a foothold in the Swat Valley, only 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad.

“Everyone was in denial that they’re weak and they won’t be able to take over, they won’t be able to give us a challenge,” Zardari said, in excerpts from the interview aired on the broadcaster’s Web site yesterday. “Our forces weren’t increased and therefore we have weaknesses, and they are taking advantage of that weakness.”

The cease-fire is another form of denial. The Taliban look at the Pakistani government as pro-America. The Taliban will not tolerate anything they deem as a Western influence.

The humanitarian crisis has grown grave. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates 900,000 Swat residents are affected by the war. Many will be forced to flee their homes. The refugee camps have become unmanageable.

Pakistan is a country with nuclear technology and fighting religious extremists. Relations with India are hostile. Neighboring Afghanistan is unstable. U.S. policymakers need to quickly decide what to do about Pakistan. The matter is too urgent for partisan bickering.

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