Local Taliban Takes Over Contested District as Militants Returns to Swat

Reports Persist Pakistani Military Offensive Imminent

The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s pullout from the contested Buner district has reportedly completed, with TNSM leader Sufi Muhammad leading the militants back to the Swat Valley town of Mingora. Despite seemingly defusing the crisis, considerable questions linger about the situation.

For one thing, in their brief time in Buner, the TTP set up local auxiliaries which local residents says have remained and even taken charge of parts of the district. With reports of the new TTP recruits marching through Buner, questions about the very public pullout of the TTP proper from the area leave many wondering if it was a sincere pull back or a political ploy in the battle for popular opinion.

Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has warned the various Taliban-styled militants against dishonoring the peace deal, even as the government continues to deploy more and more troops to the area and sources say a new military offensive against the Swat Valley is imminent.

The United States remains at odds with the Pakistani government about the peace deal, with Admiral Michael Mullen claiming that Pakistan was “moving closer to the tipping point” where it might be taken over outright by extremist factions. The US insists that no peace deal with the militant factions was possible, with Ambassador Holbrooke saying the Taliban will stop at nothing to prevent Pakistan from becoming “a modern state.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.