Swat – a report from the frontline

Swat – a report from the frontline
The News, May 16, 2009
Farhat Taj

Recently an AIRRA (Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy – an Islamabad-based research organisation) investigation team went to some parts of Swat that had been under army attacks. The team observed whether the attacks were targeted at the Taliban and their installations. It observed two villages -- Ladikas and Watkai in Mingora -- and Khwazakhela, a tehsil in Swat. The team with its access to the people of the area could manage to take Besham route from Islamabad to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela. Though continuous curfew and alternate threats from the military posts and the Taliban posts badly hampered the journey of the team but somehow some of the members could manage to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela and Charbagh with the exodus of the people from different parts of Swat valley. The team was able to access and interview several dozens of those families who were still stuck up in the valley.

The team observed that the security forces have successfully destroyed the installations of the Taliban and have disrupted their chain of command in that area. They have killed many Taliban there with very little collateral damage, albeit with the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The best example is the Taliban headquarter in Khwazakhela. The headquarters was located on a mountain. It housed the Taliban operational command led by commander Yamin, the intelligence department led by commander Rashid and the department of logistics and supplies. The aerial bombardment of the Pakistan army reduced all that to rubble. The entire side of the mountain housing the headquarters has been exploded and razed.

The Taliban terrorists had established the headquarters with great efforts. They had cleansed a huge portion of the forest on the mountain to make free space for the building. They recruited the youth on a large scale, strengthened their command and control structure, established their hierarchical structure, planted mines on the main roads, dug bunkers and occupied the strategic passes in only two and a half months. And they did all this after the peace deal agreed with the NWFP government in February of this year.

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