Where the Mullahs Are the Upper Crust
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
New York Times, August 1, 2009
THE turmoil in the Swat Valley has raised a chilling prospect for Pakistan — that the Taliban’s Islamic takeover in the once-peaceful area was turning into a social revolution, with mullahs leading peasants in the seizure of property from rich landlords who had fled in fear of their lives.
The most worrisome question has been whether the revolution would spread from Swat to the much more populous and strategic province next door, Punjab.
In the logic of revolutions, one might expect it to. This is, after all, a country where more than half the population lives in desperate poverty in the countryside, and the rich live in walled estates, blissfully untouched by ordinary peoples’ problems.
But Pakistan is more complicated than that. Its politics and economics are far more local than national; regional, ethnic and cultural differences are very deep. The mullahs of Swat may be calling for the downtrodden masses to unite, but here in Punjab, religious leaders are still firmly tied to the upper crust.
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A prayer for protection as schools reopen in Swat - AP
Landowners Still in Exile From Unstable Pakistan Area - NYT