Fundamentalists blew up six music and video shops in the past month in northwestern Pakistan, an area bordering Afghanistan that experts say the Taliban have colonized.
In Islamabad, an army of female religious students have also been attacking music and video stores, and kidnapped three women they say were running a brothel. The students also held two policemen hostage until the government released two imprisoned teachers who work at a banned seminary.
A crackdown on jihad-preaching seminaries has faltered because of the religious right’s influence over the Musharraf government, which hasn’t even been able to prevent foreign students from illegally enrolling in the schools.
In the North West Frontier Province, Afghan and Pakistani Talibs have established a parallel government with “Sharia courts, police forces, tax collectors and public offices,” Al-Ahram Weekly reports.
But a takeover by extremists is not a given. The Taliban have so far failed to stem fighting between Islamist militants and native Pakistanis at the Afghan border.
More than 250 foreign al Qaeda fighters and their local allies have been killed by tribesmen since mid-March, the Associated Press reports.
“Pakistan authorities give in to madarsa students, release teachers”
Press Trust of India, March 29, 2007
“‘No more music in this town'”
Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), March 29, 2007
“Pakistani Taliban blow up video shops”
Agence France-Presse, March 30, 2007
“Efforts to reform seminaries ‘in a shambles'”
Reuters, March 30, 2007
“Clashes in Pakistan kill 60 near border”
Associated Press, April 4, 2007