Swat Valley: News You Need to Know

I’m kind of limited with my typing these days (yay! it’s “just” tendinitis in my shoulder, nothing worse!), so I’m going to direct you to some good reading. And yes, this is what’s known in the teaching world as “desk work,” frequently left as emergency lesson plans for the substitute …  Sorry ’bout that …

Taliban try to spread fighting in Pakistani tribal belt

Taliban militants backed by al-Qaida trainers are stepping up a campaign of violent destabilisation across Pakistan‘s tribal belt to divert forces from the battle in the Swat valley, a senior Pakistani commander said today.

“They are trying [to spread the fighting] but it’s not significant enough for us to divert our attention,” said Major General Tariq Khan, the commander of the 50,000-strong Frontier Corps, speaking to the Guardian at his Peshawar headquarters.

The Taliban has launched suicide attacks and heavy assaults on security installations in the tribal belt along the Afghan border in recent days.

Read the rest of the story here.

Having just finished reading Three Cups of Tea, I feel as if I personally know these villagers who are now caught in the crossfire:

The operations have sparked a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations said more than 360,000 people had registered for help in Mardan and Swabi districts, south of Swat, and more were expected.

The Frontier Corps is playing a secondary role in Swat, where the fighting is commanded by the regular army. In the main town, Mingora, the Taliban have dug into defensive positions and mined bridges and roads. But Khan said he did not expect to see a major street battle in the town.

“I don’t think the Taliban are going to fight once they see a consolidated effort against them. Their effort at getting into Mingora is to melt into the crowd, to move out with the exodus of refugees,” he said. He predicted that a hardcore of fighters would retreat into remote valleys north of Mingora and try to sue for peace.

Imagine living in the middle of that: Bridges and roads mined. Drones flying overhead. Trying to flee the area and having the Taliban walking beside you. In our great “war on terror” or whatever we are now calling it in the Obama Administration, please don’t forget the people. Never forget the people.


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