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Pakistan emergency 'aiding Taliban'
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Sunday Nov 11th, 2007 9:10 AM
Sunday, November 11, 2007 : Fighters advance as Bhutto vows to go ahead with a protest against emergency rule.
Taliban fighters are tightening their grip in areas in the north-west of Pakistan as a result of the country's state of emergency, officials in the Swat valley have said.

Pro-Taliban fighters have advanced in recent days and government officials say they now control as much as 70 per cent of the valley, just a few hours' drive from Islamabad.

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad, said: "They claim that the government has been distracted with all its efforts directed at arresting human rights activists, politicians and lawyers."

The rising violence close to the border with Afghanistan was one justification for the current emergency declared by General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.

'Protection' offer

The Taliban are said to have taken control of public buildings, including police stations.

Mawlana Mohammed Alem, a local Taliban leader told Al Jazeera: "We wish to provide security to the public, who can no longer tolerate the unjust prejudicial acts of the police.

"We wish to provide protection under the Islamic Sharia law.

"Banks face trouble transporting money, we are prepared to provide them with protection," he said.

Local residents say heavy-handed police tactics are one of the reasons Taliban support is growing.

"The police here commit atrocities against the residents and the law provides protection only for senior officers," one man told Al Jazeera.

"Taliban supporters have not caused us any harm; our electricity was cut and they managed to restore it in one hour," another said.

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