Taliban Wield Mighty New Weapon: Class Warfare

Militants exploit tensions in areas where feudalism still holds sway
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2009 7:56 AM CDT
Local residents, who fled their villages during a fierce fight between Islamic militants and security forces, return to their homes in Mingora, capital of the troubled Swat Valley, in Pakistan .   (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash))
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(Newser) – Taliban militants are exploiting the deep class divisions in Pakistani society in a push to expand their power, the New York Times reports. The militants gained control of the Swat Valley in part by organizing landless peasants into gangs to force out wealthy landlords. It's a strategy that many fear will prove successful even in more populous parts of the country.

The Taliban—who won a deal to impose Islamic law in the region—targeted resentful, landless farmers and won their support by promising effective government and redistribution of wealth. "This was a bloody revolution in Swat," a senior Pakistani official said. "I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan.”