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Free of the Taliban, Pakistans Pashtun poets revive their craft

Amid the chaos of refugee life, traditional verse is flourishing again as troops seek to drive militants from North Waziristan

For more than five centuries, poets in remote north-western Pakistan have recited verses about the areas mountainous scenery, their tribal culture and love. That all changed as Islamist militants tightened their hold on Pakistans tribal regions after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The Taliban and their 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.

Now about 50 poets are part of a mass migration of more than 700,000 Pakistanis who have been displaced from the North Waziristan region as the military seeks to dislodge Islamist militants there. And amid the chaos of refugee life, they are restoring tradition to their verses.

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