Pakistan is in bad shape. A lot of horrible things have been going on in the distressed nation for a while: people are being displaced, people are dying, the Taliban is taking over areas, the army is claiming it’s killed more than 1,000 insurgents.
The Taliban is bombing mosques and the civilians, until now, were standing idly by.
For a long time it was difficult for civilians in Pakistan to publicly show their disloyalty to the Taliban. After all, Pakistan supported the Taliban organization for nearly seven years with arms and aid, while the Taliban imposed very, very strict Sharia law on all under them, in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.
Then they were ousted in 2004 by NATO forces and have been regaining muscle ever since.
Now the Taliban is waging war on Pakistan, a former provider and new enemy. They are attacking civilian establishments in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), most recently suicide bombing a mosque and killing at least 40 people.
So as you can imagine by having read all that has been happening to the residents of Swat Valley and NWFP, and the displacement of millions and the deaths of thousands, the civilians have had enough.
On Saturday, nearly 500 residents of the Upper Dir district (near Swat Valley, where the suicide mosque bombing took place) banded together to form a small but determined civilian army, known as a “lashkar” and attacked the Taliban.
The angry, armed mob attacked five villages and destroyed 20 houses suspected of belonging to Taliban forces. Seven Taliban fighters were killed in the surge and the villagers now occupy three villages and are attempting to push the Taliban out of the other two.
“We are Muslims, we pray regularly and read the Koran. We don’t want them, they have to go,” said Upper Dir resident Samiullah Khan, Reuters India reports.
“Attacking a mosque is not Islam. They’re not Muslim” he said.
The U.S. is hoping for sustained fighting from the Pakistani army to help push out the Taliban and neutralize their forces. By doing this, support for the insurgency in Afghanistan will be cut off, potentially leading to the defeat of al Qaeda and the war in Afghanistan.
It’s safe to say the residents are rising up. They are angry with their army for taking so long to act and for allowing the displacement of so many of their own people. They are angry with the Taliban for thinking they can act in any way and claim Islam as their defense.
They are angry that their way of life has been so disrupted. Now they are taking it back.