The Swat Operation

There is a good article at BBC Urdu today by Abdul Hai Kakar which describes various stages of the Swat operation over the last 14 months. On the first day of the operation, the army decided to start with the infamous firing from gunship helicopters and heavy bombing in the populated areas of Swat. After a few weeks, the army was successful in driving the Taliban out of their strongholds — Kabal and Matta Tehsil. The Taliban ended up taking refuge in Peuchar, an isolated, high-altitude area with a lot of forest and mountain cover [1] Peuchar has been rumoured to have become, since 2005, the new centre for militant training camps after they were moved out of Waziristan. Ayub Khan Ashari, an ANP provincial minister from Swat recently made a statement saying, “We have a lot of evidence that hundreds of foreign and local militants are present in Peuchar camp. They plan operations there and dispatch suicide bombers for attacks’”.

Predictably, the Taliban started re-emerging from Peuchar within a few months and the kidnappings, suicide bombings, and other acts of violence started again, forcing the army to restart the operation in October 2008. The army decided to use fighter jets and gunship helicopters to bomb Peuchar from the air. Oddly, the Taliban had already left for the more open areas of Swat and had actually established their Sharia courts, were meting out justice, shutting down girls schools and occupying the army’s abandoned checkposts while the army was busily bombing faraway Peuchar. This was the time when residents started seeing the truly strange sight of militant checkposts and army checkposts within 50 yards of each other. The Taliban started taking control of Mingora which was apparently occupied by 40,000 troops. This was about the time when the Taliban was said to be in control of about 80% of Swat.

Now, after local and foreign pressure, the army has embarked on the third phase of this operation, following Kayani’s visit last week and Rehman Malik’s promises that peace will be restored within 2 months. Let’s see what happens.


Notes and extra links:
[1] Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s (then Director General Military Operations (DGMO)) statement at the end of the first stage of the operation in January 2008

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4 responses to “The Swat Operation

  1. Pingback: Intense Conversations » Blog Archive » Senate Demands America To Immediately Release Dr. Aafia | Dr Aafia …

  2. Excellent analysis, Rabia.

  3. takhalus

    the difference between the beginning of the operation and now is that at that time districts like kohistan and shangla were on the verge of falling as well..and critically the town of Bisham which would ahve cut the KKH. That was the trigger for the first army operation..with regard to the beginning of the militancy..th HERALD was writing about it back in 04..the ANP was warning that the ISI was playing a double game in FATA back in 03..alas most people were dismissive of what was gonna happen and some even gung ho in thinking the military operation would be over in a day.

    As a people amongst pakhtuns of swat are quite accepting of authority..thats why even till now they are one of the few pakhtun areas which celebrate eid with Islamabad and not on their own ulema sightings..thats why outbreaks of violence in swat have always been brief..whether in 1994 or 2001..why this is different is quite obvious..

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