AFTER descending the jagged heights of South Waziristan, a remote part of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan, Wazir Khan Mehsud reached safety last week with his three small children, 40 other relations and their bundled possessions. They had come to Dera Ismail Khan, in the “settled area” of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) that borders Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, to escape an army assault on the local Taliban. Militants of the Mehsud tribes, these fighters represent one of the most formidable of several tribally based Islamist gangs in north-west Pakistan. The army now vows to crush them.
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