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How To Know The Taliban Runs The Show

12:24 PM, Jan 20, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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The Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan executed six more "US spies," continuing their campaign to remove any opposition to their rule in the Taliban-controlled tribal areas. One of the "spies" was publicly hanged in Mir Ali, which is one of the two large towns in North Waziristan. The locals won't take his body down out of fear of retribution by the Taliban. At least 15 such "spies" have been killed in North Waziristan since the New Year.

The murders in North Waziristan make clear that the Taliban are running the show in the tribal area. Hundreds of such executions have been carried out by the Taliban, but there has yet to be a single prosecution for these murders. The government doesn't have the capability to conduct an investigation in the area, and if they did, it has no power to detain the suspects. The Taliban, and not the Pakistani government, is calling the shots in this region. Here are some other indicators the Taliban is in control of territory. These warning signs show up routinely in the Pakistani press:

• The government seeks to negotiate with the Taliban to restore peace in a region, or the locals themselves turn to the Taliban to end the fighting. Most recently this happened in the settled districts of Hangu and Swat (outside of the tribal areas). Peace deals have been signed in many of the tribal agencies and the settled districts in the northwest.

• The Taliban is bold enough to grant amnesty to government officials. This just happened in Swat, where Mullah Fazlullah announced a "conditional amnesty for social and political workers and public representatives from target killings." Fazlullah is confident enough to admit his forces are conducting targeted killings of government officials, knowing nothing can be done to stop him.


• The Taliban executes leaders of the opposition and mutilates and displays their bodies, while the public cowers. The Taliban went so far as to dig up the body of a Swat tribal leader and hang it in the town square.

• Police and government officials resign in droves, and carry resignation letters and place advertisements in the newspapers announcing their resignations because they fear being targeted. Again, see Swat.

• The Taliban run parallel administrations, with their own courts, tax offices, security forces, and recruiting centers. Sharia, or Islamic Law, is declared. Swat, North and South Waziristan, Mohmand, Arakazai, and a host of districts and agencies have parallel Taliban governments.

• The military abandons bases after admitting its inability to resupply those bases. This happened last year in South Waziristan.

• Taliban leaders openly hold press conferences and send invites to the media. Qari Hussain, the Taliban leader known for running suicide camps for children, conducted one such press conference in South Waziristan. More troubling, he did so again just the other day in the provincial capital of Peshawar.

• The news from a region dries up after reports of Taliban activity. This has happened in the northwestern districts of Buner and Dir.

These warning signs are the major indicators, but there are others. And the Taliban expansion is not limited to Pakistan alone. The Taliban have done the same things in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Just the other day, the Taliban said it established a shadow government in more than 70 percent of Afghanistan's rural regions. Lest this be viewed as Taliban propaganda, the United States said last year that the Taliban openly run six of Kandahar's 16 districts, while the Canadians only control four. The rest were either contested or locally controlled. Shadow governments have been declared in Uruzgan and a number of provinces in eastern Afghanistan.