Thursday, October 18, 2012
Daily TimesBalochistan has become the scene of yet another tragedy, this time in the form of a health worker shot dead in cold blood by masked gunmen. A polio vaccination team was going from door to door in Quetta to administer polio drops to infants, a day after a three-day nationwide campaign took off with great gusto, when unknown gunmen fired at them from their motorbikes. One of the workers was killed instantly. Needless to say, this incident has caused a huge setback in the province’s anti-polio drive, suspending services in some areas indefinitely. This is not just a tragedy, it is a huge loss for all those children who will be at the mercy of this debilitating disease, which is spreading like wildfire in all those areas where conspiracies, extremist mindsets and illiteracy rule supreme. Such an occurrence can, unfortunately, be expected in a place like FATA or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where mullahs have completely banned immunisation campaigns, but to see the kind of oppressive mentality that castigates polio immunisation as being the evil doing of the US to make Muslims sterile move into other areas is disturbing indeed. If ever there were an award for absolute nonsense, it would go to this sort of mindset. Now the militants have turned their ire towards actual aid workers who are now putting their lives at risk to make sure that the children of this country have a future. Balochistan has been the home of much volatility with the nationalist insurgency taking centre-stage. However, extremist attacks in the shape of sectarian killings have been on the rise in the province with Shia Hazaras being marked for death by the dozens. Now, it seems all is fair in this jihadi war including the murder of health workers toiling for the betterment of society. It is alarming to see that murderous fanaticism is not just contained to one backwater area of the country — FATA and the like — but is infiltrating other provinces, seeping into the core of the national fabric. If this continues, health and aid projects will be cancelled altogether leaving us a pariah nation, shunned by the global community, thereby putting more lives at risk from deadly diseases that the world has worked hard to eradicate.
NATO's secretary-general has insisted during a visit to Kabul that combat troops will remain in Afghanistan until late 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his forces would, however, be ready for an early withdrawal.
FRANCIS ELLIOTT From: The TimesAFGHANISTAN appears through the clouds, a black serration of the western horizon. From a valley in between, the crump of artillery is answered by a machine gun. The US calls Waziristan, in Pakistan's tribal areas, the "epicentre of global terrorism". Sararogha is near the middle of the epicentre. "This is the hub," says Brigadier Hayat Hassan, commander of Pakistan's forces in South Waziristan, standing at a hilltop base. Its name, Lajpal, is spelt out in spent cartridges. He is surrounded by sight guides pointing to some of the most infamous names in Pakistan. One way is Mingora, the town in which the schoolgirl blogger Malala Yousufzai was shot. The other is Miran Shah, the administrative centre of North Waziristan. The Pakistani Taliban are estimated to have 30,000 fighters. Foreign Islamists, Punjabi militants, the remnants of al-Qa'ida and the Haqqani network and leaders of the Afghan Taliban all find shelter in its hundreds of valleys.South Waziristan was supposedly cleared of insurgents in a military operation in October 2009. But with pressure again growing on Pakistan to push north, it is obvious that militants still have free run of much of the territory. Chains of hilltop bases, some so remote they are supplied by donkey, secure the main settlements and roads. But only 15 per cent of the 300,000 people displaced by the operation have been allowed to return. With 15,000 troops in more than 6000sq km, a senior officer admits that "vast areas" are still not policed. In the Janata valley, once used for training by the Pakistani Taliban, only one of 14 villages has been resettled. US drones can be heard over the valley's upper reaches, say officers. "There are gaps through which these people can move," Brigadier Hassan says. "We can't occupy every summit." Asked when Lajpal was last attacked, he pauses, smiles and says: "Yesterday." The assault was ineffective - a couple of mortar rounds that "landed well shy". But it underlined that this is, at best, a work in progress. The danger is such that visits by Western journalists are extremely rare, but The Times was given permission to travel by a military keen to emphasise its achievements so far - and the scale of the challenge remaining. Even seen from above, Waziristan's topography is bewildering: fertile alluvial plains, immense pillared cliffs, shallow, broad gorges snaking between barren ridges of ochre or cement-grey. The helicopter from Peshawar affords a drone's-eye view of Kotkai, the village that was home to Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, before landing nearby in Chaghmalai. The settlement is one of a number of "model villages" that the Pakistani military has refurbished in a classic counter-insurgency operation. The village has been given its own cadet college, a new girls' high school, a market and poultry and cattle farms. Up the newly built road, a technical training college provides skills for returning Mehsuds - the local tribe - to give them an alternative to becoming insurgent foot soldiers. Sitting in a fort built by the British in 1933, a group of youths (and some who look a lot older) stitch footballs. The military is discounting hives and bees to start a Waziristan honey industry. There are plans to graft Italian strains on to the local olive trees. Signs of change exist: asked what he thought of the shooting of Malala, an 11-year-old schoolboy says: "She was brave. She should not have been hurt for wanting an education." His teacher confirms a change of attitude among a people imbued with tradition: "People want their daughters educated now." The local women have dispensed with their burkas when they fetch water. But it is slow going. A classroom of computers, provided by the military, has not been used. "We have no one to teach them how to use them," the principal said. The chairs in the room are still wrapped in plastic. The boys' school has only three teachers for 600 pupils, but it is faring better than the girls' school, which has yet to recruit even half the female staff it needs to open. Eight in 10 applicants for the cadet college were turned away, a rejection level that will not help a literacy rate below 5 per cent. Only when villages have basic amenities such as electricity does the army allow residents back. Most of those displaced, waiting in towns such as Tank, know their mud-built houses are crumbling into dust or are being used by the Taliban. Privately, military officers complain they are restricted by a lack of funds and political will. The desire not to be seen as an army of occupation is clear at Lajpal. On the roof of the base two giant speakers point down to the badlands. "They are for psychological warfare," said Captain Imran Khan. "We use them for the call to prayer so that they should know that what they have been told about the army not being Muslims is false." Then, pointing barely a mile to the rear, he says: "Until three months ago we were there." Many believe that the front line must move faster than that if Pakistan is serious about defeating its insurgency.
BY:Malala. The name itself is lyrical. It falls from the tongue with a soothing cadence, despite the grim circumstances under which the world met 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. She’s the Pakistani child the Taliban ordered assassinated. Shot in the head as she was returning home from school, Malala is still alive but critically injured. As the headlines worldwide have reported, she was targeted for vocally demanding what should be available to all girls: an education. Watching videos of this gentle girl speaking about her desire for education, it’s hard to know how much her motivation to stand up to the Taliban came from within and how much was prompted by her equally outspoken father, who operates a school for girls. But this is clear: She is a child raising herself far beyond her years to meet horrible realities. Children tend to do that when cruel adults put them in horrendous situations. And denying education is among the most longstanding injustices done to women — one that also happens to undercut the economic well-being of entire countries. The Taliban are perhaps the world’s most notorious oppressors of women. (They dominate not merely much of Afghanistan but also Malala’s home region, the Swat Valley of Pakistan.) They are not, however, the only force of backwardness in the world that believes morality and honor require keeping half of society’s members uneducated and subjugated. It’s a global problem. In that way, Malala is representative of an estimated 41 million girls in the world who are denied a primary education. Only 30 percent of all girls are enrolled in secondary school. Education protects girls. It shields them from marrying too young, and from having children too young and without planning. It protects them from being forced by poverty into sex trafficking and other acts that are dangerous to their health. This is as true in America as it is in Africa, India, Cambodia and the Swat Valley. The worst oppression of women flourishes when many members of society — fathers, brothers, even women themselves — buy into traditional patriarchy. Religion, law, ingrained cultural norms — and, of course, armed thugs — all act to enforce it. It’s interesting to look at efforts to educate girls in light of another project aimed at the improvement of women: micro-lending. That is a form of rudimentary banking that makes small loans to poor people in developing countries as a way to help them start small businesses. The ability to buy a sewing machine or a cow may lift a family out of abject poverty to a more sustainable, hopeful condition. The guiding wisdom of micro-lending is that women typically are the best recipients of these loans. According to some micro-lending experts, when non-governmental organizations provide new access to money to men, they tend to spend it first on unproductive uses, such as prostitutes and drinking. Women, however, will figure out a way to use the funds to better the conditions of their families and often the community at large. Sometimes they start schools or small businesses that then allow their daughters to seek education instead of being shunted to low-paid work right away or being sold off in an arranged marriage. As such, micro-lending undercuts traditional patriarchy. Interestingly, it does so in ways men tend to welcome. According to micro-lending advocates, men then tend to value the benefits a new business or job brings to family life, the extra income. They change their behavior and often their attitudes as a result. This is how societies progress. One little girl, as the Taliban has brutally shown, is relatively easy to silence. But a village full of young girls, with fathers and mothers and brothers and uncles all understanding the benefits of education for all — and pressing for it as a right — is a more powerful force. Malala’s initial dream was to become a doctor. But she dropped that goal, after being convinced that serving as a politician would be more helpful to her country. Now hanging on to life, she nearly became a political martyr. She deserved to have been born into a more gender-equal world. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/18/3871322/commentary-malalas-heroic-stand.html#storylink=cpy
The various specialist consultants from both the Queen Elizabeth hospital, where 14-year-old Malala is admitted, and Birmingham Children's hospital continue to assess her on a daily basis.
Associated PressOne of the two Taliban militants suspected of attacking a teenage girl activist was detained by the Pakistani military in 2009 but subsequently released, intelligence officials said Thursday. Malala Yousufzai, 14,
Associated PressDespite widespread outrage over the Taliban shooting of a female teenage activist, Pakistani leaders and opinion makers are divided over whether the government should respond by targeting the militants' last major sanctuary along the Afghan border. The U.S. has long pressed Pakistan to launch an operation in the remote and mountainous North Waziristan tribal area, home to enemies of Islamabad as well as to militants fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The recent attack on 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai has given new momentum to the debate. One side argues the government should harness anger over the shooting to build public support for a push into North Waziristan. The other claims more fighting isn't the answer and would trigger a violent backlash. They recommend peace negotiations and ending Pakistani support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. A Taliban gunman shot and critically wounded Malala on Oct. 9 as she was returning home from school in Pakistan's northwest. The militant group targeted her because of her vocal support for girls' education and criticism of the insurgents' behavior when they took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived several years ago. Pakistan's powerful army chief strongly criticized the attack shortly after it occurred, raising expectations that the military might be laying the groundwork for an operation in North Waziristan. The army conducted a concerted public relations campaign before it launched an offensive in Swat in 2009 by seizing on anger over a video showing a Taliban fighter flogging a woman who allegedly committed adultery. "We refuse to bow before terror," Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the day after Malala was attacked. "We will fight, regardless of the cost." A prominent Pakistani politician urged the military to take on the Taliban in North Waziristan while addressing tens of thousands of people rallying support for Malala in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday. "Move ahead and crush the Taliban, and 180 million people will be standing behind you," the head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf Hussain, told the crowd by telephone from London. Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said last week that the government was considering a military operation in North Waziristan, although he backtracked a few days later. The military has long recognized the threat posed by Pakistani Taliban militants holed up in North Waziristan but has been reluctant to launch an offensive there for several reasons. The army has said its troops are stretched too thin by operations in other parts of the tribal region. But many analysts believe Pakistan does not want to cross other militant groups with whom it has historical ties and could be useful proxies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw. These groups, also located in North Waziristan, have primarily focused their fighting on Afghanistan, and any operation that upsets them could prompt them to turn their guns on Pakistan. Islamabad has also faced the challenge of launching an operation in North Waziristan without looking like it was simply doing the bidding of the United States, which is extremely unpopular in the country. Opponents of military action against the Taliban, mainly right-wing Islamists, realized that outrage over Malala's shooting could provide the government with the cover needed to conduct a North Waziristan offensive without looking like a U.S. stooge. They responded by publicly accusing the government of using the attack as a pretext to fulfilling U.S. demands. "We condemn the attack on Malala, but this attack took place in Swat, and we fail to understand why the government issued statements about launching an operation in North Waziristan," said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader in the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party. "They wanted to play politics on this issue." Pakistani politician Imran Khan, a former cricket star, told Geo TV on Tuesday that "military action is not a solution." He and many on the right believe the driving force behind the insurgency is Pakistan's unpopular alliance with the United States and that the proper path forward would be for Islamabad to end its support for the war in Afghanistan and conduct peace talks with the militants. Critics point out that past peace deals with the Taliban have failed and that the militant group has repeatedly said it is fighting the Pakistani government both because of its ties to the U.S. and to establish Islamic law throughout the country. Opinion among average Pakistanis about a North Waziristan operation is also mixed. Zamman Watto, a lawyer in the eastern city of Lahore, said the government should not launch an offensive because "this will have a very adverse impact on the security situation in the country in the form of suicide attacks by the militants." Maqbool Khan, a teacher in the northwest city of Peshawar, urged the military to push into North Waziristan, saying "the government should act against terrorists wherever they are hiding." The government will need to move quickly if it wants to capitalize on public outrage over the attack, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. "As time passes on from the Malala incident, public opinion could shift again, as it often has in the past after a terrorist attack," Lodhi wrote in a column in The News on Tuesday. "The window of public consent for any action will then begin to close."
Yahoo! Contributor NetworkPakistani youth activist and blogger Malala Yousufzai came out of her coma on Wednesday, according a report from the Atlantic Wire . Last week, Yousufzai was shot along with two of her classmates in retaliation for her BBC blog by the Taliban she had criticized. Here's the latest information on Yousufzai and how her story has impacted Pakistan and other nations. * Seven News noted that Yousufzai's campaign for female education was a motivating factor for the Taliban, which shot her on a school bus in the Swat Valley. * Yousufzai flew to the United Kingdom over the weekend for further recovery after having the bullet removed from her head in Pakistan. * The Atlantic Wire indicated that her prospects for recovery without any permanent physical damage or brain damage was good. * She has feeling in all of her limbs, but will face rehabilitation and treatment for several months. * The Christian Science Monitor reported that Britain's Muslim community has held demonstrations and vigils in support of Yousufzai. * Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday that "the Taliban attack on the 14-year-old girl, who from the age of 11 was involved in the struggle for education for girls, is an attack on all girls in Pakistan, an attack on education, and on all civilized people," as noted by Seven News. * On Friday, the U.S. State Department said that while the U.S. had discussed offering her assistance, but that they had nothing to announce at that time. * State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that "we've seen in the past in Pakistan that when the Taliban commits truly heinous and outrageous acts like this, it galvanizes popular opinion against them not only in the cities, but also in those towns and neighborhoods where they plot and hide. So obviously, the degree to which the Pakistani people turn against them help their government to go after them. That would be, perhaps, a silver lining from this horrible tragedy." * Neighboring Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked that Pakistan work harder to combat extremism, according to a report from the Associated Press . * Outrage over the shooting led to tens of thousands of Pakistanis in Karachi showing their support for Yousufzai, another AP report indicated . The demonstration was organized by the Muttahida Quami Movement, a party that has condemned other parties for their failure to encourage others to show their support sooner.
Let there be no doubt that Malala and her friends are not child soldiers. They are youth icons. They did not wield guns or bombs but pen and microphone In Pakistan, an apparent national consensus followed the heinous attack on the three young girls Malala Yousafzai, Kainat and Shazia. It lasted for less than two days perhaps. What should have transformed into a national resolve to fight the Taliban terrorists degenerated quickly into a Malala and anti-Malala, or more accurately perhaps, a pro- and anti-Taliban Pakistan. The pro-Taliban forces could not keep up a pro-Malala pretence for too long. They went from a qualified denunciation of the dastardly act to oblique compliments to the child icon to a vicious campaign to undermine her standing, ultimately to unabashed apologetics for the Taliban terrorists. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan, as is customary now, was leading the pro-Taliban pack and spent no time in muddying the waters by declaring the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan as (a perceived) jihad. That he made the comments right after visiting Malala, fighting for her life, was particularly callous. He could not bring himself to denounce squarely the Taliban for being the savages that they are, and of course, not by name. Not to be outdone by Mr Khan and his Internet ruffians, who act more and more like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its student wing, the original JI jumped into the fray as virtually the information wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The former JI ameer, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and his daughter, the ex-MNA Dr Samia Raheel Qazi, have unleashed an exceptionally morbid effort to malign Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. The jihadist cheerleaders in the media spent no time in projecting the Qazis and their drivel into every living room. The Qazis have alleged that Malala was groomed by her father as a virtual tool of the US policy in the region. In tandem with their tirade, the Internet was flooded with pictures of Malala and her family with the late US envoy Richard Holbrooke to suggest that the affected family was on some sort of subversive mission. A false dilemma was created to project Malala as a child soldier somehow comparable with the young suicide bombers deployed by the jihadists. In a most unfortunate manner, Malala’s father was first blamed for doctoring her diaries and then for putting the child in harm’s way. A whisper campaign has accompanied this vitriol about how is it possible for a young child of nine or 10 to actually display such maturity in her writings. One anchor took the campaign of drawing false binaries a step further in his show, ostensibly about journalistic ethics. A senior newspaper editor cut that anchor to size but framing the false narratives goes on in full swing. Let there be no doubt that Malala and her friends are not child soldiers. They are youth icons. They did not wield guns or bombs but pen and microphone. They did not stand for violence and barbarism but for peace, education and enlightenment. There is absolutely no comparison between the Taliban — and the JI — using Pakistani youth as jihadist cannon fodder and an upright Ziauddin Yousafzai bringing up his bright young daughter in the best traditions of nonviolence. Malala did not advocate or participate in war. She stood witness to the worst atrocities that the JI’s cohorts perpetrated in Malakand. And unlike those who cannot even admire a gifted child except in a backhanded manner, she did so honestly. There simply cannot be a comparison between forces as dark as the Taliban and children as bright as Malala. There have been nine-year-olds before Malala who were ahead of their age group and there will be more. But Malala, may Lord bless her and her friends with a speedy and full recovery, will stand head and shoulders above not just her peers but those pygmies of men and women that pass for leaders in Pakistan. She stands tall for her simple, clear message that contrasts with that of the prevaricating, vacillating, forked-tongue adults who have yet to condemn the Taliban unequivocally for at least this particular attack on a child who was not an enemy combatant. Little surprise then if the convoluted logic and line taken by Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan is the same as the TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan. In a message sent to media via email and text, the TTP man has accepted responsibility for the attack. He has attempted to justify the attack on a girl child by invoking allegorical verses from the Holy Quran and obscure traditions from the Hadith. The reference to the Quranic tradition of al-Khizr and Moses is so over-the-top that even Qazi Hussain Ahmed might not be able to justify it. But such are the pitfalls of political expediency and, more importantly, of relying on divine texts in temporal matters. Anyone who pleads for making peace with the Taliban must read the 493-word TTP statement. It is not just the TTP’s ultra-orthodox religious position but also tortuous reasoning, backed by its use of terror, that is the basis for the failed peace agreements that now number in double digits. Yet the apologists continue to call for making peace with Malala’s assailants. Interestingly, these Taliban advocates also claim that the attack on the children was carried out at the behest of ‘US-Indo-Zionist’ handlers. Are they then calling for a truce with the so-called foreign hand? The answer is that they are merely muddying the waters around a clear issue. Just as the talk of decisive military action against the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allies started, assorted smokescreens also started going up. The forked-tongue politicians and media persons have created an artificial fork in the road, which could have otherwise been a straight path out of the abyss. General Ashfaq Kayani, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, several Awami National Party leaders and the Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have spoken clearly enough to clear the fog created by the Taliban defenders. It remains to be seen whether this talk translates into action or the division into a Malala and anti-Malala Pakistan leads this country into missing yet another opportunity to rally against terrorism and the putrid thought that breeds and protects it. P.S The TTP has now also released a detailed statement in Urdu justifying their attack on the girl child. Their drivel is as shameless as their actions.
What does Malala Yousafzai have to do with drones? How can the 14-year-old school girl, who today struggles for survival in a UK hospital, have anything to do with the unmanned aircraft that swoop over our northern territories – the Orakzai Agency being the latest area picked out for attacks? Yet, while people across the country have generally been shocked by what happened, there are others, including political and religious leaders who have created immense confusion by trying to wrap the two issues – Malala’s attack and drone strikes – together. In the National Assembly, Maulana Attaur Rehman, who happens to be Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s brother, spoke of the need to ‘guide’ children correctly. Other clerics have been hesitant to condemn the murderous assault on a helpless child – apparently forgetting the most critical lessons of their religion. Even so-called liberals – Imran Khan standing out as one example – have sprung into discussions on the ‘root’ behind the shooting, suggesting that drones were the problem that led to such outrage. In the small, petty game of politics, we hear statements suggesting Malala is being ‘used’ by the Americans. It is then hardly surprising that the accusations that Americans may have orchestrated the attack come from both sides – the people who say Malala is ‘used’ by the US and the Taliban. This is despite clear cut statements from Ihsanullah Ihsan, the Taliban spokesman who holds regular media talks over mobile phone lines, claiming responsibility for the attack and saying that they would make further attempts to kill her if she survived. It has also become clear that the gunmen were sent by Maulana Fazalullah, the former Taliban commander of Swat. Although he was never captured as the military operation in Swat ended, but deprived of his radio channels and the white horse he once rode in a grotesquely distorted emulation of Islamic heroes, it now seems he wages war on children. And too few speak for these children. The astonishingly articulate and courageous Malala, addressing audiences in both Urdu and fluent English, was forced to speak for the right to education for girls, to condemn the Taliban, because too few adults dared to do so. Had they spoken out, had marches been led in previous years – or even now – to oppose Taliban atrocities, as they are held against drone attacks, Malala and her injured friends may not have been left alone to have bullets pumped into them. We, as a society, must ask if it is really acceptable to thrust that responsibility on our children. They should not have to risk their lives by speaking out against an inhumane, brutal force because no one else dares to do so. Even now, we should ask why the Taliban are openly condemned by so few, even though we have seen in the clearest terms what they are capable off. Yet, despite those pictures of a little girl with tubes helping her breathe as she lies in a hospital bed, sedatives dulling her pain, jibes and ‘jokes’ come in about the American’s ‘using’ her or ‘exploiting’ the situation. Humanity appears to have vanished – and taken rationality along with it as well. Things should not be that difficult to make sense off. There can be more than one evil in the world. Murder and rape are both terrible crimes. In just the same fashion, the Taliban and other militant forces deserve to be opposed with all the might we can muster. And yes, drone attacks too need to be opposed – though it is not necessary to constantly connect dots. There is every reason to believe the Taliban have acquired a force that goes beyond hatred for the US. The climate of extremism they have woven holds our country in a vice like-grip, as difficult to disentangle as a spider’s web. We hear of threats to girls’ education in southern Punjab, and acid attacks on women who step outdoors in Balochistan. We also see silence descend over the issue of blasphemy, despite the evidence that has emerged time and again of people being framed; of a teenaged Christian girl with Down’s Syndrome being ensnared in a blasphemy case; and of extremist forces becoming more and more active in the Punjab. All this has little to do with the US as such; although yes, anti-western feelings are present – and acute. They are a factor in what we are seeing. But extremism has taken on a life of its own. The Taliban struggle is one for power and it is simplistic to believe it will vanish once the Americans leave the region. This will simply not happen and facing this reality is crucial to our future. The reality tells us we must speak up more powerfully. We must take on responsibility for what is happening, and not leave the burden sitting on the shoulders of the very young. The political parties so fond of ‘long marches’ must march – or rather drive – a little more, taking on the Taliban. Still more essential is to remove the props and keep them standing up and indeed rising higher like a puppet raised above the theatre brink by the master who wields the stick it is built onto. But there can be no excuse at all for backing a force capable of the worst kind of crime. The Taliban are little different from other such forces we have seen through history; they are worse than some. Collaboration or support for them is simply unacceptable. All we have to do to understand this is to talk to people who have lived under their rule. Many in Swat, Dir, South Waziristan and other places are perfectly clear on who is responsible for the destruction and havoc in their lives. Though they see the complexities involved, with the US presence in the region, they know too at whose hands they have suffered worst. The views of such ordinary people must be respected. They must be given a chance to become their own spokespeople and not have words put in their mouths by outsiders who pursue a line of their own for political and ideological reasons, even though to do so they need to throw morality and basic human decency aside.