Pakistan's deal to allow the Taliban to impose Sharia law in the Swat valley in return for peace has inspired the extremists to seek further gains, the Washington Post reports. Taliban fighters are spreading deeper into the region—a mere 100 miles east of the capital—and leaders say they want to extend a "complete Islamic system" across the entire nation.
Pakistani officials insist they had no choice but to accede to Taliban demands to impose their harsh system of laws. "We had no power to crush the militants, and people were desperate for peace," said one politician. But a growing number of influential Pakistanis warn that the move is further evidence that the tide of extremism is rising and the weak central state is being "nibbled away" by insurgents seeking to spread their version of Islam.