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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan reports first militants killed in South Waziristan

As many as 50 died Saturday as the military prepares to officially launch an offensive in the Taliban stronghold.

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There are conflicting casualty reports from the region. The BBC says "at least 44" were killed on Saturday, including six soldiers, in efforts to clear a route for army convoys. But AP reports that a military statement said 37 fighters died outside the town of Sarwaki, but also cited two officials who said 50 died in the villages of Barwand and Madijan.

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Writing in a Pakistani newspaper, Daily Times, political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi called taking the fight to South Waziristan "a pre-requisite" for "rehabilitating the writ of the Pakistani state" and proving to the international community that it is serious about confronting extremism.

But in an article on ForeignPolicy.com, Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council, said that with 3 million displaced civilians it is going to take more than a military offensive to restore the writ of the state.

The bad news is that taking territory, as the military is doing now, is not enough. There is no effective civil or judicial system in place to speedily see to the needs of the population, nor is there an effective local police force to protect civilians from Taliban reprisals. We are still waiting to see any semblance of a government plan for dealing with the [internally displaced people's] return home. The Army is neither trained nor equipped for that task and cannot be expected to hold the areas that it clears.

The editorial board of Dubai-based Gulf News agrees, warning that the government must be prepared to defend Pakistan's cities against terrorist attacks that have struck far outside the tribal belt.

Terrorists have struck several times, mainly in Peshawar, Islamabad, and Lahore, in retaliation for the military operation in the Malakand Division. But now an intensification of these attacks is feared, as Mehsud earlier warned the public of more attacks. Security will have to be strengthened in the cities with an enhanced presence of police and paramilitary troops to counter any backlash to this 'decisive' offensive.
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