Pakistanis flee Swat Valley as military strikes Taliban
As Army bombs the area, militants are digging in and preparing for ground battle.
(Page 2 of 2)
The Daily Times adds that, as the military touts its gains over the Taliban, the Taliban claim to be firmly in control of Swat.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The Taliban are in control of "90 percent" of the Swat valley, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Muslim Khan told Al Jazeera on Wednesday. Blaming the breakdown of the Swat peace deal on the Pakistani military, Khan said the peace accord with the government in the Swat valley was over. Khan alleged the security forces had killed civilians in the area. "How can we follow the agreement with them?" Khan said.
Swat is seen as an especially significant battleground. Rather than a remote badlands along the Afghan border, it is only 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and is a relatively wealthy former tourist resort famed for its striking mountain views.
This latest outbreak comes as a serious challenge for Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, who is in Washington, along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to convince skeptical American officials that Pakistan has the will and capacity to beat the Taliban. The Los Angeles Times reports:
"In a morning meeting at the State Department between Clinton and other senior officials ... Zardari promised: "We are up to the challenge. . .My democracy will deliver."
"American officials want Mr. Zardari and the Pakistani Army to move troops, including the country's 11th Infantry Division, from Lahore and the eastern part of the country, where the army has been preoccupied with India, toward the western border, where the government is battling Taliban insurgents.
Pakistani officials told their American counterparts this week that they were moving large numbers of troops toward the border with Afghanistan, which American officials described as encouraging.
But it remains a question whether these troop movements are real or token, and some of Mr. Obama's senior aides caution that Pakistan's military is ill suited to carry out the kind of counterinsurgency operations needed to end the Taliban fighters' control of Swat, in the North-West Frontier Province, and to keep them from infiltrating again or shifting to another region."