The Taliban are setting themselves
up for another defeat in the Pakistani tribal areas along the Afghan border.
There, the Taliban have been going around ordering men to start growing beards,
and warning them that they will be punished if they don't. The Taliban can do
this because the government is negotiating a truce with the Taliban and the
tribal leadership in the region. It is believed (at least by many Taliban) that
this will enable the Islamic radicals to impose their lifestyle on everyone in
the region. The Taliban are true believers (as they were across the border in
the late 1990s, until most Afghans turned on them in the wake of the September
11, 2001 attacks.) They don't appreciate the extent to which most Pakistanis in
the tribal territories disagree with the hard core Taliban religious practices.
The government is more aware of this problem, and is apparently going to
exploit it by offering the tribal chiefs military muscle to resist the Taliban
lifestyle police. Beards are one thing, but when the Taliban try and take away
the music, cell phones and videos as
well, things get violent.