Islamabad moon rising

Check out this fascinating and slightly — okay, extremely — terrifying piece in the Economist about the shadowy “semi-autonomous tribal region” (i.e., no man’s land) that is Pakistan along the Afghanistan border. It describes the government-backed effort by the Taliban to kill hundreds of Uzbek militants there. So, just to reiterate, you’re either with us or against us — unless you’re against us and with us. It sounds like this was a tribal battle that’s being dissembled as a victory in the war on terror — nevermind that the victors are the very people we went to war to drive out of Afghanistan.

And it’s not just out in this ungoverned frontier that extremism is rising in Pakistan:

A less obscure struggle was launched in Islamabad on April 6th by a mullah named Abdul Aziz. He gave the government a month to close the capital’s brothels and music shops, and tear down advertisements depicting women. He also declared sharia law within the high walls of his mosque and the adjoining madrassa. If the government were to respond with force, he promised it suicide-bombings. After hearing this sermon, Mr Aziz’s followers, allegedly more than 10,000 bearded males and burqa-clad females, set fire in the street to a pyre of music videos and CDs extracted from local traders. The mosque, Lal Masjid, on the roof of which these young zealots can be seen practising martial moves with staves, is barely a mile from Pakistan’s supreme court, parliament building and the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI).

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