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Terrorism & Security

US sends envoy to Pakistan amid growing economic, security concerns

Pakistan weighs asking the IMF for a loan, while continuing to battle militants in Swat and Bajaur in the northwest.

By David Montero / October 20, 2008



As Pakistan's twin crises – its war against extremism and its wobbling economy – reached new heights over the weekend, Washington dispatched an envoy to Islamabad.

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Dawn, a leading English language newspaper, reported that 25 militants were killed Sunday in renewed violence in Pakistan's Swat valley, an area of the North West Frontier Province where militants have gained a foothold.

Fighter jets bombed a village in Swat's Matta tehsil on Sunday morning, killing at least 47 people, including 22 non-combatants and damaging a dozen houses. ...
The media information centre in Mingora claimed that 25 militants were killed in the air strike in Barthana and scores injured. It said security forces had also destroyed a guesthouse, or hujra, of commander Alamgir being used as a "den" by militants.

The government's assault comes just days after an attack launched by militants against a police station in the Swat Valley that killed four security officials and wounded 26, The New York Times reports.

Dawn adds that more militants were reported killed on Sunday in Bajaur, a major militant stronghold along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani security forces have launched a series of major military assaults against extremists since Aug. 6, targeting several enclaves along the border with Afghanistan. The military says at least 1,000 militants have been killed in Bajaur alone, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Those assaults have effectively put Pakistan in a state of war, according to The New York Times.

Not since Pakistan forged an alliance with the United States after 9/11 has the Pakistani Army fought its own people on such a scale and at such close quarters to a major city. After years of relative passivity, the army is now engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on at least three fronts.
The sudden engagement of the Pakistani Army comes after months in which the United States has heaped criticism, behind the scenes and in public, on Pakistan for not doing enough to take on the militants, and increasingly took action into its own hands with drone strikes and even a raid by Special Operations forces in Pakistan's tribal areas.
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