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How a man on a white horse threatens Pakistan’s Switzerland

If you do not see his white horse, it does not mean he has gone (via Flickr)

As the position of Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf gets weaker every day, extremist forces gain more and more ground. One of them is an islamist group known as Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM, Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law) , which is getting more and more support in north-west Pakistan. The region around Swat, which is known as the Switzerland of Pakistan and has been known for a moderate population, has been seeing the rise of TNSM-leader Mullah Maulana Fazlullah to become a prominent cleric with extremist views.

Fazlullah is spreading similar messages like the Taliban did in Afghanistan: He has his own radio channel and also is said to proclaim islamist tirades through a megaphone while mounted on a white horse. He is said to loathe every kind of entertainment and has publicly spoken out against the education of women and vaccination against polio, claiming the side-effect of impotence being a trick of the West to shrink Muslim population. Though he has officially agreed to a ceasefire with the local government, his followers (estimations say it could be up to 10,000) have threatened and blown up video-stores, DVD- and barber-shops in Swat; some days ago, police prevented a bomb attack on a Girls’ School in the last minute.

Officials and the military do not make any attempts to arrest Mr Fazlullah, who is a nephew of former TSNM-leader Sufi Mohammad, who led thousands of young Pakistanis into a battle with the U.S. and its allies in 2001 to support the Taliban and will be out of prison end of next year. TSNM is now said to have followers even in the military, and there are signs that it is closely linked to Al Qaeda (it isn’t even unlikely Bin Laden can be found somewhere in the region).

Last week, TSNM tried to blow up a giant ancient Buddha in the region, bringing back memories the Taliban’s destruction of the Afghan Buddhas of Bamyan in 2001. For certain, TSNM will be causing more trouble in the coming months – probably making it into the headlines with attacks of a more devastating nature.

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