The Pakistani military continued its offensive into the restive Swat Valley today, and one official reported that at least 43 civilians were killed in the crossfire between soldiers and the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants which have taken over much of the region.
With growing discontent in the region (and more and more of the populace turning to the TTP-run courts as a legitimate alternative) the Pakistani government has promised a nebulous new strategy and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has offered a “quick solution.” So far though, what it has offered is more of the same: harsh offensives, large civilian death tolls, and desperate residents fleeing as the military turns yet another border region into a warzone.
The local TTP has taken control of approximately 80 percent of the Swat Valley, just the latest in a growing number of tribal areas in which the loosely affiliated factions have asserted control, supplanting the increasingly weak Pakistani government. They have issued religious edicts barring everything from shaving to girls schools and the Pakistani government has answered with long but ultimately fruitless military offensives.
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