Analysis

Swat Update

Swat once known as the Switzerland of Pakistan was in deep trouble when the armed struggle ensued between Pro-Taliban led Maulana Fazlullah and Pakistan Army in last week of October. According to the estimates more than 100 illegal FM radios are operating in the Malakand division and Fazlullah was referred as Mullah Radio in Swat. The Pakistan army sent 2,500 troops to quell growing militancy in the valley. A temporary truce was agreed between the militants and army but it collapsed after military killed 60 militants belonging to the banned Islamic organization Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i- Mohammad (TNSM). The role of TNSM in the ongoing crises is important. Its founder Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who is father in law of Maulana Fazlullah, is carrying out operations in Swat. Even as Sufi Mohammad continues to languish in Peshawar jail from last six years with his 10,000 armed supporters.

Maulana Fazlullah controls his two shuras, one consisting of clerics and other local notables, with different band of fighters knows as Taliban in Swat. Some of fighters are under direct command of Fazlullah, others are belong to Tehrik Islamia Taliban who are more radical and inflexible in their approach.

Swat become a major bone of contention for President Musharraf after imposing emergency locals fear that full scale operations of professional army would be launched. But even after deploying troops in Swat, 48 soldiers captured by the Pakistan military. The captured militants were freed later and were not willing to fight fellow Muslims, some of them wanted to leave their jobs and join ranks with the Taliban.

Maulana Fazlullah captured Matta, Khawazakhela, Madian, Shangla towns of Swat and set up government in Pakistan state itself based on Shariat. Swat was ignored by the MMA government in the NWFP. Since Swat fell in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas, any military action had to be validated by Peshawar, but it refrained from doing it. When force was deployed it made negative impression on the locals of Swat. At the same time Jirgas were made to demand ouster of the state troops. Only after the ouster of the MMA government the jirga wanted the government forces to act with vigor.

The war in the tribal areas could be the battle for Pakistan itself. It could be battle against the creation of an Al-Qaeda state within Pakistan. Having failed to create one in Somalia, the attempt by Al-Qaeda is to make FATA area as base for major terrorist's activities in the West. The group of youths arrested by Germany recently with plans to attack American troops stationed there have revealed that they had travelled to Pakistan for training.

The imposition of emergency in Pakistan would not change the situation in Swat. As the military would have to deal with the Al-Qaeda challenge, other challenges posed since the imposition of emergency. Those who are fighting for their rights on the streets of Pakistan would be in a mood to deal with Al-Qaeda. Five days after the imposition of emergency, security forces planned major military offensive in Swat. In the military offensive four militants owing allegiance to Maulana Fazullah were killed.

In order to have successful operations military needs to be united, but it can be ascertained from the current crises that senior level army may remain united; discontentment exists in the rank and file. As it has been seen in the past some Generals sided with Islamists and stop taking orders from Pakistan's General Headquarters. The same could happen in case of Swat which is another Waziristan in making. Armed action alone cannot provide long term solution to the expanding arc of extremism. Coercion has to be doubled with stability has to come in Swat, otherwise whole of FATA faces threat within. 

20-Nov-2007

More by :  Rahul Mukand

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