And yet some observers have noticed a subtler, more insidious trend. It is not only the fire-breathing sermons by radical mullahs calling for a “sharia nation” or the rantings of Taliban leaders who accuse the entire Muslim government of being “infidel.”
These observers describe a creeping social and intellectual chill that several have called “the Talibanization of the mind.”
It is a growing tendency for women to cover their faces, for hosts to cancel musical events, for journalists to use phrases that do not offend powerful Islamist groups, for strangers to demand that shopkeepers turn off their radios.
“With each passing month a deeper silence prevails,” columnist Kamila Hyat recently wrote in a widely circulated article. The public is afraid, uncertain and retreating into religion because the country’s leaders are failing to address its problems. “Just as we fight to regain territory” from the Taliban, Hyat wrote, “we must struggle to regain the liberties we are losing.”