Where: Islamabad, Pakistan

February 20, 2009 : The Swat Valley, a picturesque region in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province and once a major tourist destination, is completely under Taliban control. The Taliban, the most dreaded extremist Islamic militant group in the world, is present in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It opposes modernisation and the education of girls and women. Since January 2009, the militants have closed down 400 private schools which had 40,000 girl students. At least 10 schools which re-opened were blown up.

On 16 February, the Pakistan government signed a peace treaty with the organisation, agreeing to the imposition of ‘Sharia’ or Islamic law, in the region. However, just two days later, a Pakistani television journalist Musa Khan Khel was shot dead in Matta area of Swat Valley. This gave lie to the Pakistan government’s confidence that the accord would curb the militants.

Many Pakistanis have expressed the fear that the deal will lead to the Talibanisation of the country. Javed Iqbal, a retired judge, said on Pakistan television,”It means that there is not one law in the country. It will disintegrate this way. If you concede to this, you will go on conceding.” Pakistan’s western allies, including the U.S. A. and the U.K., are exerting pressure on the government to curb the extremists, and India has expressed its fears for the nation and the region.