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Pakistan has become synonymous with political upheaval, military coups and social unrest.

The government is now facing a critical test as it begins to clear out Taliban strongholds in the region bordering Afghanistan.

Last month, after the US criticised a peace pact between the government and the Taliban, the Pakistani army went into action against Taliban fighters who had seized a district only 100km from the capital, Islamabad.

The military says that more than 1,100 Taliban fighters have been killed since the fighting began but this has not come without retaliation.

Last week, a series of bomb blasts rocked the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), killing dozens and injuring close to 100 people.

On Wednesday, a deadly bomb ripped through the city of Lahore just as General David Petraeus, the head of the Pentagon Central Command, was visiting Islamabad.

In the NWFP, which has borne the brunt of the chaos, feelings against the Pakistani state are running high and the humanitarian situation is worsening.

The army offensive has sparked an exodus of more than 2 million people and only a fraction of the displaced have ended up in camps.

On Monday, Riz speaks to Nicholas Schmidle about the government's determination to destroy the Taliban fighters.

Schmidle reported from Pakistan for two years, spending an extensive amount of time with the Taliban in areas that are now under their control.

He writes about his experiences in his new book To Live Or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years In Pakistan.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Monday, June 1, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera