Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Taliban Open New Office

The Taliban have opened a new office in the southern part of Pakistan's Waziristan province:
"Participants noted that the crime rate was rising in Wana, particularly murder, robbery and drug trafficking. Local cleric Maulana Maulvi Abass explained in a meeting that the purpose of opening the office was not to enforce Sharia, but to restore peace in the area (Daily Times, March 15). As part of the plan, locals will be able to bring their problems and grievances to the Taliban office where they can be heard by a local judge, replacing the traditional jirga system. Maulana Abass said that the government did not oppose the opening of the office because it knows that it will improve law and order in the area. Maulana Abass was previously wanted by the government. Last year, however, he signed an agreement with the government in which he agreed not to participate or encourage attacks on government security forces (Daily Times, March 15)."

There's an interesting historical point here related to the continuing process of Islamization in South Asia, with Islamic norms comtinuing to replace tribal customs. More immediately, however, a group intimately connected with those who attacked us on September 11 is institutionalizing their foothold on the territory of a key ally in the War on Terror. I'm not reassured by the idea they're not there to introduce shari'a. Am I to assume that when they make rulings, they're not going to refer to the religious beliefs which motivate their organizations? Furthermore, the Taliban were initially welcomed in Afghanistan for restoring order, so this doesn't exactly have a promising precedent. The rise of anti-government militancy also casts this in a bad light. For all the article says about the differences between northern and southern Waziristan, there's a war there, and I'm not sure our side is winning.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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