Has Pakistan’s Swat fallen to Taliban?


Islamabad : Has Swat, the principal city of the restive South Waziristan region in Pakistan’s northwest, fallen to the Taliban? It would seem so from an editorial in a leading English daily Saturday.

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“There has been no official announcement, no victory parades or televised addresses by the victorious party, no cheering crowds welcoming the liberators – but Swat, to all intents and purposes, has fallen to the Taliban,” The News said in an editorial headlined “The fall of Swat”.

“It is the announcement that all girls education in the valley will cease from January 15 that is the tipping point,” the editorial added.

All schools that teach girls have been ordered by the Taliban to close by that date or face the inevitable consequences – being blown up being the most usual of these. They have already blown up well over a hundred girls schools, principally those operated by the government, but have moved in recent weeks to blowing up private institutions as well.

“Female education has virtually ceased anyway, and the Taliban announcement merely puts the seal on what is a manifest reality – the government has lost the battle for Swat and the Taliban have won,” the editorial said.

“They operate at will, go where they like, issue orders and proclamations that a terrified public are unable to ignore and broadcast their message of obscurantism on the radio for all to hear – and obey,” it added.

Noting that the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government had called for assistance, the editorial said: “But little seems to be forthcoming.

“Refugees stream out of the valley, the operators of private schools try to fight a rearguard action, the tourist trade is dead and buried long ago and the beautiful valley of Swat now enters a time of darkness.”

President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is a junior partner in the NWFP ruling coalition that is led by the Awami National Party of Chief Minister Asfandar Wali Khan, grandson of the legendary Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan – better known as the Frontier Gandhi.