May 11, 2009

WHEN THE FLYPAPER MEETS THE SWATTER:

Taliban on the run in Swat (Syed Saleem Shahzad , 5/12/09, Asia Times)

Within hours, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Ashfaq Kiani, launched an aggressive military operation - supported by gunship helicopters, heavy artillery and fighters jets - into northern North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), ransacking Taliban sanctuaries in Swat and other areas. Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the BBC that an estimated 200 militants were killed over the weekend, bringing the total killed in fighting in the region to 700.

Water, electricity and lines of communications were completely cut; the Taliban had no option but to flee. An exodus of the local population also began, with hundreds of thousands of residents leaving their homes. In the most affected districts of Swat, Buner and Shangla, some 70% of the population has fled for their lives. The number may soar to 1.5 million in the weeks ahead.

Elsewhere, the government sponsored anti-Taliban conferences across the country in which Shi'ite and Sufi clerics declared the Taliban rebels heretics and called for their destruction. All four of Pakistan's major political parties - including the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the largest opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz - released statements in support of the military strike.

This was how the situation unfolded over the past week in Pakistan - a situation envisioned by the administration of former United States president George W Bush more than two years ago. The events are a culmination of years of political deals cut with Islamabad to form a consensus government and provide popular support for Washington's "global war on terror".


It would be nice to be able to give W more credit, but the advantages of having the enemy cluster in one essentially lawless area are too obvious. Even the Viet Cong never set up their camps in the free-fire zones.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 11, 2009 7:09 AM
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