Army on the scent of Swat Taliban leaders By Ismail Khan
Dawn, 03 Jun, 2009
PESHAWAR: A voice crackled over the wireless last week. ‘How are you?’ the caller asked. ‘Is everything alright?’ It caught immediate attention.
For several days officers of the military’s signal corps have been straining their ears to track the voice that once dominated the airwaves in Swat. The voice was familiar and distinctive.
‘It was unquestionably that of Maulana Fazlullah,’ a military officer said. The intercept on May 27 was the last that the military heard from the Taliban chief in Swat.
Since May 8 when the military launched Operation Rah-i-Rast, the militant leader has been careful not to come on the radio to avoid detection.
As part of its strategy, the military has shut down all cellular and landline communications in Swat to force the militants to come and speak out on hand-held waltie-talkie.
And the intercepts, the military says, offer a glimpse into the dwindling fortune of the man, from being in total control of the scenic valley to somebody trying to shore up the sagging morale of his fighters.
The Taliban leader went ahead with his message for his fighters when his call did not elicit any response from the other side.
‘Don’t lose morale,’ Fazlullah said. ‘Go into the trees and take the sniper rifles with you. Take aim and fire. You should be able to kill at least one or two.’
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