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Pakistan's Pashtuns, looking for statehood, may look to Taliban

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"But what could emerge, if the Taliban were to get control over large areas of the border districts in Afghanistan, is some sort of Islamic emirate which would in fact be a Pashtun state."

That could expand to more Pashtun areas by merging the appeal of pan-Islamic ideas and the long suppressed dream of a Pashtun state, he argues.

US troops in Afghanistan and the Pakistani military would then be fighting Pashtun pride on top of other passions fueling the insurgencies.

Two million Pashtuns flee Swat fighting

Since 2001, Pakistani, Afghan, and NATO troops have rushed into Pashtun lands. US drones fill the sky. This year has been especially rough for Pashtuns in Pakistan, with more than 2 million forced to flee military offensives in Swat and nearby areas.

"It's like a Pashtun genocide," says Ayeen Khan, of Swabi, NWFP, echoing a phrase heard across the region. "In different areas a lot of Pashtuns are being killed. They need someone to stop the killing."

Many who fled the fighting said they want neither the Taliban nor the Army in their lands. They say the Punjabi-dominated security agencies control both forces, with the Army periodically fighting the militants, then receding and letting the Taliban reimpose their terrorizing rule. Pashtun civilians say they are caught in the middle of this "double game."

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