Taken from AP:
MINGORA, Pakistan – Pakistan was trying to end bloodshed when it let the idyllic Swat Valley fall under Islamic law last week. Instead, it has emboldened the Taliban and prompted an invitation — however improbable — for Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban’s local spokesperson told the AP he would “welcome militants bent on battling U.S. troops and their Arab allies if they want to settle there.”
Muslim Khan gave his first interview to a foreign journalist on Friday. During the two-hour interview, he told the Associated Press reporter, “Osama can come here. Sure, like a brother they can stay anywhere they want. Yes, we will help them and protect them.”
How did Pakistan respond?
Pakistan reacted with alarm to his comments, saying it would never let him shelter the likes of bin Laden.
“We would have to go for the military operation. We would have to apply force again,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira. “We simply condemn this. We are fighting this war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Pakistan’s problem is that force didn’t work. That’s why the Taliban got this cushy power gig, complete with their very own Islamic law, to begin with. Pakistan signed a truce with the group in February, after the death toll was deemed too high. (According to CNN, military actions in Pakistan killed an estimated 8,000 people in 2008 alone.)
The Taliban controlled the Afghani government until the United States declared “conflict” on Afghanistan in 2001. They are suspected of hiding, aiding, and abetting the al Qaeda network, which allegedly planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks.
Muslim Khan’s statement certainly gives credence to the U.S. claim.