I reported yesterday on the Swat Valley hudna, which had predictably evaporated as soon as the Taliban found it expedient to attack Pakistani army forces.
However, the ceasefire agreement broken by the Taliban applied only to violence between the insurgents and the military. It said nothing about Taliban violence directed at the citizens of the Swat Valley, which is now unfolding in time-honored fashion: the subjugation of women and girls is proceeding apace, churches have been attacked, and businesses that sell music are being bombed.
It’s business as usual under sharia, and people are fleeing the region by the thousands. According to Asia News:
Muslims Attack Christian Community in Punjab
One woman has been killed, and 28 people have been injured at the Presbyterian church in Songo. Violence is on the rise in the Swat Valley and in the northern regions. Thousands of people are fleeing after the introduction of sharia, including many teachers and entire families. In Takhtbhai, in the district of Mardan, there have been bomb attacks on 16 music stores.
Peshawar (AsiaNews/Agencies) — One woman has died and 28 people have been injured in an attack on the Presbyterian Christian community in the village of Songo, in the district of Gujranwala, province of Punjab. The attack took place on the evening of March 2: at 8 p.m., a group of Muslim inhabitants opened fire on the faithful who had gathered in the church for prayer. The woman, named Shakeela, died on the spot, while other members of the faithful suffered injuries of various kinds while they were seeking to flee from the bullets or to protect the pastor. The attackers broke the windows of the church, destroyed the Bibles and the other prayer books, and removed the cross from the roof of the building.
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The attack in Songo is added to a long list of violent events that are now being seen more or less everywhere in Punjab and in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The attacks are carried out by the Taliban, but also by ordinary people, and they are not coming to an end in the Swat Valley, where a fragile ceasefire has been attained by the government, thanks to the concession of introducing sharia in that district and in the district of Malakand.
During the night of March 5, the Taliban blew up 16 CD and DVD stores in Takhtbhai, in the district of Mardan northeast of Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP. It is one of the many places in the province that in recent months have come under the grip of the Taliban. In February, it was the theater of attacks against girls’ schools, carried out by Islamic fundamentalists, and in spite of the fact that the agreement between the Taliban and the government provides for the reopening of schools to girls, many are afraid of fresh violence.
Since the beginning of the year, people have been abandoning the Swat Valley by the thousands. These include many families and a number of teachers, who have formally stated that they are going on vacation. One mother who left the district recounts: “All the best teachers from my children’s schools have left. I do not think they will go back. According to my relatives there, many children have gone back to school, but there are now too few teachers.”
Hat tip: C. Cantoni.