There have been heavy clashes between the military and Islamist militants in recent weeks, a subject that has been widely covered by the media. On Monday, the Pakistani press reported the Army reclaimed the Kohat tunnel on Sunday in fighting that left 24 militants dead and two security personnel injured. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told the Daily Times, "Engineers are checking the tunnel for any explosives planted by militants. The tunnel and Indus Highway will be opened soon."
Monday's hostage-taking and subsequent surrender is significant to me not only because of what happened, but how the government failed to take complete advantage of the situation to further depict these militants in a negative light. In Iraq, Al Qaeda increasingly alienated its support because of its indiscriminate bombings - killing not just Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. soldiers, but also innocent civilians. As a result, many former insurgents allied with U.S. forces and fought against the extremist group. Likewise, today's incident (if Taliban-linked militants were behind it) can and should be broadcast in a similar light in order to garner the support of the local populace - that these militants are not acting in your interest, they kill indiscriminately, and their actions put your children and women in harm's way. In a culture heavily defined by honor, these themes curry support in the government's favor, and should be used as such. [Image from BBC News]