SHOWDOWN

Pakistanis Caught Between Taliban and Military

Could there be a more nerve-wracking place to live than Pakistan's Buner valley, where Taliban occupiers have become more daring and the military is anxious to prove it still has authority? Residents, desperate to avoid seeing their towns turn into a war zone, have asked that both sides show restraint. One local politician implored the Taliban that have remained in the area to cease brandishing weapons now that they have successfully instituted their harsh Sharia law. But the Taliban are suspected of continuing their brutal tactics: A bomb planted in a soccer ball exploded in the region yesterday, killing 12 children. The U.S. has been leaning heavily on the Pakistani government to reassert control, and there are signs that they are gearing up for a major military offensive.