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Pak mindset towards Taliban changing from support to anger: NYT

Islamabad, June 5 (ANI):  A year ago, the Pakistani public was deeply divided over the Taliban. Some saw the Taliban as fellow Muslims and native sons who simply wanted Islamic law, and many opposed direct military action against them.

Months of televised Taliban cruelties, broken promises and suicide attacks, however, have now convinced most Pakistanis that the Taliban needs to be dumped.
But, according to the New York Times, this shift in mindset is still tentative and difficult to quantify. But it seems especially profound among the millions of Pakistanis directly threatened by the Taliban advance from the tribal areas into more settled parts of Pakistan, like the Swat Valley.

Their anger at the Taliban now outweighs even their frustration with the military campaign that has crushed their houses and killed their relatives.

“It’s the Taliban that’s responsible for our misery,” the paper quotes Fakir Muhammed, a refugee from Swat, as saying.

“This is a profound moment in our history. My greatest fear is whether there is sufficient realization of this among people who make decisions,” said Javed Iqbal, the top bureaucrat in the North-West Frontier Province.

Many Pakistanis blame the United States and the war in Afghanistan for their current troubles.

Pakistanis have long supported the Taliban as allies to exert influence in neighboring Afghanistan. Unlike Afghans, they have never lived under Taliban rule, and have been slow to absorb its dangers. But that is changing, as the experience of those Pakistanis who have now lived under the Taliban has left many disillusioned.

Under Taliban rile, daily life has become degrading. A woman was lashed in public, and a video of her writhing in pain and begging for mercy stirred wide outrage. Taliban bosses ordered people to donate money. Cosmetics shops and girls’ schools were burned.

By the time the military entered Swat last month, local people began leading soldiers to tunnels with weapons and Taliban hiding places in hotels, the military said.

“These people, six months back, weren’t willing to share anything,” said a military official who was involved in planning the campaign. (ANI)

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