It was hardly the greatest military victory in Pakistani history, but you certainly wouldn’t have known that by their eagerness to show off a captured base belonging to the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan in the Swat Valley.
The base, little more than a tent and a collection of rocks strewn over a small cavern at the top of the mountain, was captured by the military today after a fierce battle. Upper Swat commander Major General Saajed Ghani said the capture of the tent was “symbolic,” and claimed that 200-300 fighters had been killed in the capture. Despite this assertion, the military captain who led the final assault on the tent said there were no bodies found at the scene.
The Pakistani military has reported enormous death tolls in its onslaught against the restive valley. Independent confirmation of these figures has been impossible, however, as the military has largely blocked media from the warzone.
One thing that’s not in doubt, however, is the enormous civilian toll of the conflict, with well over a million residents of Swat displaced into other portions of Pakistan, many of them trapped in crowded and undersupplied government camps. Experts are warning that as the war lingers, and the civilian toll rises, Pakistan will eventually face a backlash.