The apparent capitulation of the Pakistani authorities to the demands of the Taliban is actually a part of a long-standing alliance between them. The Pakistani military - that actually created and trained the Taliban in the 1990s - has long been using this movement to control Afghanistan and as a tool in its confrontation with the West. The Taliban, for its part, uses the support and protection of Pakistan to consolidate its strength and gain control over increasingly large areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It has long been alleged that some within ISI, the Pakistani intelligence, have retained links to the Taliban. Last year, the head of the CIA flew to Islamabad to present evidence that showed that ISI elements were involved in a deadly bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Officials in Washington now say that, according to human intelligence and electronic intercepts, the ISI, through its "S Wing," which officials say directs intelligence operations outside Pakistan, is involved in operations in Afghanistan by supporting more militant networks than was previously thought, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for last year’s attacks in Mumbai. According to some scholars, the reason why is the lack of will from the Army, that Pakistan does not manage to get rid of the Taliban.

However, during the past week criticism against the Taliban has intensified in the country, as beheadings, public executions and floggings are at the order of the day. VOA reports that the peace agreement has already lost support in Islamabad. Legal scholars have urged Zardari not to sign it, but he did, arguing it would harm Pakistan’s legal system and further erode government authority in the region. Last week, actually, the public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Pakistan's Swat Valley, that was recorded in a video ( sparked a wave of protests and prompted President Zardari to define such act as “shameful”. But verbal condemnations are useless if not followed by action and for the moment no action is in sight.

Columnist Ejaz Haider of the Pakistani Daily Times describe what’s going on in his country and accuses the role of the media: “The Urdu-language TV channels should be ashamed […] of supporting extremists in the name of jihad; for giving these thugs an aura of respectability and acceptability”.

There is a lot of confusion in Pakistan on how to take on the Taliban. “While we all agree that we should fight terrorism, this is where the clarity ends. We are not sure who the enemy is and what we should be fighting against,” says Nazish Brohi, a social worker.

If Pakistanis are not so sure who the enemy is, we, in the West, should be at least wary on who the friends are. President Barack Obama’s recent declaration that NATO is committed to strengthening Pakistan's ability to meet the needs, sounds like a blank check given to irresponsible hands. A government that bowed down to a Shari'a for Peace deals with a bunch of murderers, do they deserve our trust?

Pakistan recently approved introducing Islamic law in the tormented northwestern Swat Valley under a peace accord with the Taliban. In the last days, the peace deal in the Swat was in jeopardy. Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the hard-line Muslim cleric who mediated peace talks between Pakistan and the Taliban, had actually announced the end of his peace camp in Swat, accusing the federal government of not taking interest in Sharia implementation in the area.

In the beginning, Pakistani President Zardari had said that he would not allow enforcement of the Islamic law in Swat until peace was restored completely. However, he later gave up his stance, as the government of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) had threatened to pull out of the alliance if the accord was not signed. On April 13, lawmakers approved the resolution unanimously, according to the official Associated Press of Pakistan. President Zardari later signed the regulation.

With this deal, the area will come under sharia law, which -- under the Taliban’s interpretation -- will prevent women from being seen in public without a male relative.

When the Pakistan army pulled back its troops to peace-time positions in Swat Valley in February, following a peace deal between the government of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the pro-Taliban Tehreek-Nifaz-Shariat-Muhammadi, it was said that this was being done to allow a political solution, not only did nothing of the kind happen, but Pakistan had to surrender to the laws of a group of fanatical extremists.

In fact, the provincial government in Pakistan’s northwest had signed the peace agreement with hard-line cleric Sufi Mohammad in February -- known as the “Shari'a for Peace Deals” -- ending major fighting in the region between the army and Taliban militants. In exchange for peace, provincial officials agreed to implement Islamic law in the Malakand district through government-sanctioned Islamic courts.

The deals come in the wake of three operations carried out by the Pakistani military against the Taliban in the last three years - operations in which the military conspicuously refrained from causing the Taliban significant harm or from killing its leaders.

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