Pakistan middle class rises against Taliban
Khalid Mahmood is a graduate of Northwestern University and runs a flourishing marketing consultancy firm in Karachi. He speaks English fluently, leads a charmed life crammed with parties and globe-trotting, and regularly reads U.S. newspapers on the Internet.They finally appear to recognize the Taliban as an existential threat to their way of life. It is about time and hopefully not too late. One can also hope that they will add some backbone to the government fight against the Taliban. If Pakistan stays committed to the destruction of the Taliban and al Qaeda in their midst, it will make our job in Afghanistan much easier.
At heart, however, Mr. Mahmood, 38, is a man of the Swat Valley: His grandfather was the army commander of the last wali, or ruler, of the region now under the control of Islamist Taliban militants. Mr. Mahmood has vowed to restore the Switzerland of Pakistan to its former glory.
"Swat is where my heart and soul is," he said. "And I will do everything in my power to bring back the valley."
Mr. Mahmood is part of a growing movement of students, civil society leaders, politicians and activists who have joined hands against the Talibanization of their country, inspired to a great extent by a nationwide movement of lawyers that led to the reinstatement of the Supreme Court chief justice earlier this year.
As residents in Lahore, Karachi and other major Pakistani cities raise their voices against Talibanization, the Pakistani military has been attacking militants across a 50-mile arc northwest of the capital, Islamabad. After reports of policemen being beheaded and girls being flogged in Swat made their way across the world and horrified potential aid-givers in Washington, Pakistan's government finally sent the army in to do battle.
The coming together of middle-class Pakistanis against Talibanization is a recent phenomenon.
"This is a remarkable change," social scientist Amen Jaffer said. "For the longest [time], the middle class remained silent as extremists gained attention and power. Now, they are fighting back and showing they mean business."