Taliban may use 'Pakhtunkhwa' dream to expand influence in Pashtun areas

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New Delhi, Oct. 9 (ANI): Even as the Pakistan Government continues to reject Pashtun demands for an autonomous region, the Taliban could expand their reach into more Pashtun areas through its radical-Islamic agenda by promising to realize the dormant dream.

Excessive military activity in the region has also contributed to the alienation of Pashtuns.

In September, their most basic demand - changing the name of the North West Frontier Province to Pakhtunkhwa ("Land of the Pashtuns") - was rejected by the dominant ethnic Punjabis.

Islamic militants may now promise autonomy for Pashtun regions, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

"The danger of the Taliban overtly using Pashtun nationalism to justify an independent Pashtun state is small because they are operating with financial support of jihadi forces," says Selig Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington.

"But what could emerge, if the Taliban were to get control over large areas of the border districts in Afghanistan, is some sort of Islamic emirate which would in fact be a Pashtun state," he added.

Pashtun leaders also warn that younger cadres may abandon politics for arms.

"It's like a Pashtun genocide," says Ayeen Khan, of Swabi, NWFP, echoing a phrase heard across the region. "In different areas a lot of Pashtuns are being killed. They need someone to stop the killing." (ANI)

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