Taliban Spreading Influence in Pakistan

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In recent months, the U.S. war on terror in Pakistan has focused on the tribal border areas.

Now it appears the Taliban's influence is spreading to other parts of that country. Islamic terrorists are gaining a foothold in a place of uncommon beauty in Northern Pakistan.

Vacationers used to come to Swat to enjoy its mountains, lush green valleys and cooler temperatures.

Click play for more on the Christians in this area with Todd Nettleton of the Voice of the Martyrs.

But now it's dominated by the Taliban.

They don't want to see young Pakistani girls educated. Seven-hundred children are no longer able to attend class at a middle school.

The Taliban have now destroyed 184 schools. Many frightened parents refuse to send their children to the few schools that remain.

In the marketplace, the Taliban threaten women who are seen shopping alone and Pakistanis who violate Islamic law here are punished in public.

And many of those who have resisted Taliban rule have been murdered.

Eighty percent of the Swat police force has either quit or been killed.

Many innocent people like a father's infant son have been caught in the crossfire.

The Pakistani army says it is fighting to regain federal control of the area with tanks and U.S. supplied helicopters.

So far they've made little progress. Some say it's because some army officers and intelligence officials are collaborating with the enemy.

But an army spokesman says the Taliban are proving difficult to defeat.

"It is not an enemy that you can overrun and declare victory and take over the land or the area," the spokesman said.

That's why some U.S. defense department officials are recommending a shift in tactics in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. They believe it's time to work more aggressively to win the hearts and minds of the people in places like Swat with a new frontline in the war against terror.

*Original broadcast January 30, 2009.

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CBN News
Gary Lane

Gary Lane

CBN News International Reporter

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