Displaced by anti-Taliban military operation, Pakistani Pashtun poets revive their craft

By Amir Iqbal, Tim Craig, July 25, 2014

BANNU, Pakistan — For more than five centuries, poets in remote northwestern Pakistan have recited verses about the area’s mountainous scenery, their tribal culture and love.

That all changed as Islamist militants tightened their hold on Pakistan’s tribal regions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Taliban and its allies quickly crushed the poets’ words and spirits. They were warned not to write phrases that referred to women or serenity and instead ordered to compose jihadist messages of war, brutality and conformity.

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