... the Mafia--or, as happens in this case, the Taliban--will. The setting is Ziarat in the tribal northwest territory of Pakistan and its potentially profitable marble quarries. The region's tribal groups have been unable to sort out competing property rights over the quarries, and the Pakistani central government has been powerless to assert its authority despite repeated attempts. Who steps in to assign and enforce property rights--at a price, of course--but the Taliban:
The Taliban decided that one mountain in the Ziarat area belonged to the Masaud division of the main Safi tribe, and said that the Gurbaz subtribe would be rewarded with another mountain, Mr. Zaman, the contractor, said.
The mountain assigned to the Masauds was divided into 30 portions, he said, and each of six villages in the area was assigned five of the 30 portions. Mr. Zaman said the Taliban demanded about $1,500 commission upfront for each portions, giving the insurgents a quick $45,000.
The Taliban also demanded a tax of about $7 on each truckload of marble, he said. With a constant flow of trucks out of the quarry, the Taliban are now collecting up to $500 a day, Mr. Zaman said.
After four years of lying dormant, the New York Times reports the mines are making brisk business. Three cheers for third-party enforcement of property rights!