Pakistan's Zardari: The Taliban "Trying To Take Over"

Stunning in his honesty, but Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zadari tells 60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft that various Taliban-affiliated militant groups are present in "huge amounts of land" in Pakistan and his Government is in a battle to survive against the growing threat of the Taliban. Without question, large swaths of the Northwest Tribal Areas are under direct or indirect Taliban control and have been for some time now but President Zardari's clarion call is that the Taliban has made significant inroads into Baluchistan, the Sind, the Malakand and other areas of Pakistan proper.

More from CBS News:

Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, says his nuclear-armed government is in a battle to survive against the growing threat of the Taliban, which his country failed to take strong action against earlier.

Now the Muslim militant group has extended its presence from the tribal borderlands inland to larger cities, Zardari tells 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast this Sunday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"[The Taliban] do have a presence in huge amounts of land in our side. Yes, that is the fact," says Zardari. Once confined to the country's border area with Afghanistan, where they carried out strikes against U.S. troops over the border, the Taliban have extended their influence in Pakistan inland to cities like Peshawar and the Swat Valley.

The Swat Valley is an area few journalists are able to operate in and it appears that despite the presence of thousands of extra Pakistani troops the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and its local affliliate, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, remain firmly in control. Policemen have been beheaded in the streets, men have been lashed and dozens schools have been burnt down under the Taliban justice and their version of Sharia law.

The Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi is an Islamist group founded by Sufi Muhammad in 1992 and banned by President Musharraf in 2002 after the group sent fighters into Afghanistan to repel the American-led NATO assault. According to reports, the Taliban and Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi now control the Swat Valley and have banned 40,000 girls from attending schools. More than 170 schools have been burned since the battle for Swat begun in November 2006.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is an umbrella group for Taliban activities in Pakistan. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is a Wahabi Sunni sectarian group with ties to Saudi Wahabism.

The UK Guardian is reporting that "Pakistan is to impose Islamic law in a vast region of the north-west called Malakand in an attempt to placate extremists."

Critics warned that the new sharia regulations represented a capitulation to the extremists' demands, and that it would be difficult to stop hardliners elsewhere in the country from demanding that their areas also come under Islamic law."This is definitely a surrender," said Khadim Hussain of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, a thinktank in Islamabad. "If you keep treating a community as something different from the rest of the country, it will isolate them." Javed Iqbal, a retired judge, speaking on Pakistani television, said: "It means that there is not one law in the country. It will disintegrate this way. If you concede to this, you will go on conceding." The deal, set to be announced tomorrow, follows talks between the government and a local Islamic leader, Sufi Muhammad, who once led hundreds of men to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan against the US-led coalition. He was freed by the Pakistani authorities after the restoration of democracy last year, in a move heavily criticised by Washington.

President Zardari is not posturing. Wish that he were, his position could be seen as a ploy for more aid but the facts speak for themselves. Pakistan is in trouble. The question is what to do about it?

More reports on Pakistan's troubles:

Peshawar At The Crossroads.
Fighting the Right War
The Battle for Swat Valley
Predator Drone Attacks to Continue
Inside Pakistan's Swat Valley

Tags: pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, Taliban (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Re:Stop Making Post Titles Too Long to Re!

At what point do we have to start thinking about getting the nukes out of there?

by MNPundit 2009-02-15 03:55PM | 0 recs
What do we do about the nukes?

To chime in with the first commenter, if ever there was a country that needed its nuclear arsenal destroyed by military strikes then it is Pakistan. The situation in Pakistan is in a downward spiral and no amount of aid, money, talks etc. can solve that. We need aggressive action and we need it now before it is too late. The Pakistani government can either assist us or face the consequences of becoming terror inc.

by tarheel74 2009-02-15 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: What do we do about the nukes?

I read somewhere that the Indians do have such plans to seize them.  But I hope we are thinking about it, too.  I also read that the Pakistani weapons are simple to detonate, without the complex locks that most nations use.

by Bob H 2009-02-16 02:40AM | 0 recs

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