Thursday, May 14, 2009

Civil war in Pakistan's Piochar Valley

The Pakistan army has launched a renewed offensive in order to dislodge the hold of the Taliban in Swat's Piochar valley. The news is tucked away in the back pages of most papers but the scale of the offensive seems immense.

General Abbas was reported as saying “The troops have surrounded the terrorist camps and are closing in on the militants’ command centre... Our main strategy is to block the free movement of the militants and eliminate the entire leadership.”

As things stand over 750 militants have been killed and 800,000 civilians have been displaced. This figure is expected to rise to over a million. That's an extraordinary humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes, if the West was looking that is.

The offensive had also sparked riots in a number of areas across Pakistan and, I'll be honest, I'm pessimistic about this strategy which is likely to cause far more human suffering than it solves and does nothing to unite an all too divided region.

It's true that the areas controlled by the Taliban are not lands of milk and honey, quite the reverse, but how many times do we have to try bombing people into happiness before we realise it never works. Whether this can even succeed as a military strategy against an experienced guerrilla force also seems to be dubious.

The BBC have a useful interactive map to help understand some of the detail of the conflict.

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