Taliban take R&R in Karachi

Taliban rest, relax and raise money in Pakistan's largest city, raising tensions
ASHRAF KHANNAHAL TOOSI | Associated Press Writer Associated Press Writer
1:34 PM EDT, May 16, 2009
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Taliban fighters seeking money, rest and refuge from U.S. missile strikes are turning up in increasing numbers in Pakistan's largest city and economic hub, Karachi, according to militants, police officials and an intelligence memo.

The Taliban presence in this southern port city, hundreds of miles away from the Islamist extremists' strongholds in the northwest, shows how quickly their influence is spreading throughout the nuclear-armed nation.

Karachi is especially important because it is the main entryway for supplies headed to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as the city most critical to Pakistani commerce. Few believe the Taliban could actually take over this diverse metropolis of more than 16 million, but there is fear that they could destabilize it through violence and rock the already shaky national economy.

Karachi is a place where plenty of Western-dressed young men and women mingle in swanky malls, listen to Britney Spears and cruise through neighborhoods that feel like wealthy U.S. suburbs.

But it is also where U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and found beheaded in 2002. Al-Qaida operatives including suspected Sept. 11, 2001, attack plotter Ramzi Binalshibh have been found here. And the city is believed to have been a launching pad for militants who killed 164 people in India's commercial capital of Mumbai last year
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Nothing new really

I was there in 2002/03 there were regular shootings and bombings in the city,
We had over 300 militia/police guarding us (less than 30 Brits, some Rumanians, Greeks, Turks) as we had come under rocket attack. The Sheraton Hotel was car bombed killing alot of french workers.
We were pulled out because of the danger to us there especially after a major gun battle between the Pakistani Militia and Taliban in the city. The British Deputy High Commission had less than 10 people most staff and all the dependents had been evacuated.
Guns and ammunition were easily bought at market stalls (often test fired in the market up in the air)

The city has a very un equal lifestyle you are rich and can speak/write English you are ok, the majority of the population were not taught English (the official language for gov jobs/road signs/voting) so were kept down.

This fuels resentment and allows the taliban/anti-gov/etc a regular breeding ground of supporters.
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