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Terror threat hitting home in Pakistan

Attacks aren't just a US concern, more Pakistanis say.

Losing sympathy: Relatives and officials offer flowers in Lahore, Pakistan, where a Jan. 11 suicide bombing killed 26 people. Such attacks are turning more Pakistanis against terrorism.

Mohsin Raza/Reuters

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When the Taliban first came to Abdul Malik's village in the idyllic Swat valley, he was not terribly concerned. Despite their machine guns and rocket launchers, "we were feeling secure," says the man, browsing in a hat shop in Peshawar, a town just miles from militant strongholds in northwestern tribal areas.

Then, they beheaded a half dozen local police and stuck their heads on swords. "Anyone who helps the government will meet the same fate," Mr. Malik recalls them saying.

"That was when people began to hate them," he says. "They are not Muslims. This is inhuman."

Across Pakistan, the country's extremists are making enemies, and the desire to rein in terrorists – long seen as America's agenda – is gaining converts. Pakistanis have awaked to the threat of militancy since the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, allegedly by extremists, and a spate of recent suicide bombings in previously untroubled cities like Lahore.

"Al Qaeda is doing a good job of alienating the country against it," says Shafqat Mahmood, a columnist for the English-language daily The News.

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