June 1, 2009:
In Pakistan, the government has found a way to use hatred of the Taliban, economic distress and cell phone service to do some serious damage to the Taliban leadership. The government did all this by putting ads in newspapers, and on posters, offering cash rewards for information leading to the capture, or death, of 21 Taliban leaders believed operating in the 5,400 square kilometer Swat river valley. This area is only about 160 kilometers from Islamabad, the nation's capital.
For over two years now, a few thousand Taliban have been waging a terror campaign against the 1.4 million people living in the valley. In that time, the Taliban have made themselves hugely unpopular by burning down girls schools, and destroying Pakistan's only ski resort, along with shutting down many of the tourist facilities that comprise a large portion of the area's economy. The violence has not shut down all cell phone service, and the appearance of the reward offers caused hundreds of locals to call and provide information. The Taliban is already in retreat from the valley, and the knowledge that many of the local people with cell phones are now acting as informants for the army and police, is apparently speeding up the process.