India warns of danger from resurgent Taliban | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 19, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 19, 2009

India warns of danger from resurgent Taliban

India denounced the Taliban as a "danger to humanity" days after Pakistan struck a deal with Islamic militants allowing Taliban-style sharia law in a region bordering Afghanistan.
When asked to comment late Tuesday on Islamabad's pact with pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's Swat region, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee insisted the Taliban was nothing short of a "terrorist organisation".
"Taliban believes in nothing but destruction and violence. In my assessment, Taliban is a danger to humanity and civilisation," he said.
The controversial accord followed talks between ministers in the troubled North West Frontier Province and a local militant leader, Soofi Mohammad, on formalising the implementation of Islamic law.
The agreement will cover Pakistan's Malakand area, which includes the Swat valley and is home to around three million of the estimated 20 million people who live in the northwest province.
The Islamists, who have waged a nearly two-year campaign for sharia law in the region, have vowed to disarm once Islamic justice is established.
Pakistan has denied making concessions to the militants, who have beheaded opponents, bombed schools and outlawed entertainment in Swat, formerly a ski resort popular with Westerners.
While New Delhi may have been measured in its reaction to the deal, Indian newspaper editorials were unequivocal, with some analysts warning of the possible implications for the long-running Muslim insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.
The prominent business daily the Economic Times, titled its commentary "Faustian bargain" and slammed the deal as "nothing short of a pact with the devil".
The Business Standard expressed similar views saying that "the battle for the soul of Pakistan" had begun.
"Will it be a modern nation-state of the kind that the world would wish or is it going to slip into an Islamist miasma from which nothing will emerge but trouble for neighbours as well as distant powers?" it asked in its editorial.
"The trend of recent events suggests the bleaker outcome -- starting with the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
"Underlying all this is the army's perception of Pakistan's interests vis-a-vis its neighbours, and its use of the Taliban as a weapon that can be used to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan and to attack targets in India," it warned.
Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, a former Indian high commissioner (ambassador) to Islamabad, said Pakistan had effectively lost control of one province.
"Its worrying (as) Swat is very close to Kashmir. We cannot ignore it," Parthasarathy said.
India and Pakistan's territorial dispute over Kashmir has triggered two wars between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
Vikram Sood, the former chief of India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analyses Wing, warned that Pakistan was now "in deep trouble", with more and more areas coming under Islamic militants' control.

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