- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009




I am from the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan and am studying at the University of Oslo. All my family and friends live in the frontier areas, and I have gone to my area at least once every year since I came to Norway.

I am writing because I am so very fed up with “experts” in both Pakistan and the West constantly distorting the realities of our people and area. Most of them do not even bother to come and see what is happening. I am asking in the name of objective journalism for some space so I may speak as a daughter of the land for our people.

The people living in northwestern Pakistan under Taliban rule are being held hostage. The Taliban terrorists have unleashed a reign of terror on the people, who are not willing to give up their Pashtun culture. They are overpowered by the armed militants. Their lives, livelihood and culture are attacked by the Taliban in league with al Qaeda.

Every day, people must bury friends and neighbors who have been tortured to death and beheaded. The Taliban hang up dead bodies of local people in public places to deter those who might think of standing up to them. The Taliban have destroyed educational institutions, for both girls and boys, and health centers. They have banned music and dance, which are some of the most cherished Pashtun traditions. The Taliban Shariah courts harass people every day.

The al Qaeda terrorists are alien Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Afghans and even Africans. The Taliban also consist of many criminal gangs from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Taliban have replaced the Pashtun culture with the Wahhabi way of life - the violent and intolerant interpretation of Islam sponsored by Arab sources in the Middle East.

In several towns, the people took up arms against al Qaeda and the Taliban. In most cases, the tribal armies were massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Pakistani army did not help, and the leaders of the local people’s armies were targeted for death by the militants, one by one or in groups through suicide bombing. In several places, the local people are still resisting the Taliban and al Qaeda, but the militants have much better weapons and tools of communication than the local people.

Despite the massacre of so many young men of the area, local resistance against the Taliban and al Qaeda is going on from tribe to tribe and village to village. There could be much more robust tribal resistance to the Taliban and al Qaeda if the tribes were assured that Pakistan’s army stands firmly with them and will show up in case help is needed. More important, they need to be confident that the intelligence agencies of Pakistan will not tacitly facilitate terrorist killings of tribal leaders and massacres of their armies.

People in Pakistan’s frontier areas live under a brutal occupation of the Islamist militants. Yet most “expert analysts” on the area, both in Pakistan and in the West, do not appreciate the situation. Most do not even bother to come to the area to see what is happening to the people. Some of the so-called experts literally spread lies about the people.

This situation is very painful for me as a person who belongs to the area. I would ask that American readers be very critical of the “expert” views and try to find out about the reality on the ground.

Farhat Taj, a university student in Norway, is a woman from the frontier region of Pakistan, which is under Taliban rule.

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