The Pakistani military today put the number of civilians who fled the ongoing fighting in the nation’s northwest to 1,300,000. At the same time, western military and intelligence experts cautioned that while the nation might make short-term gains with the massive military offensive in the Swat Valley, they were also risking further destabilization and a backlash.
“The techniques that are being deployed go against all accepted best-practice in dealing with counter-insurgency,” cautioned former British secret intelligence service director Nigel Inkster. “There’s a general view that the very indiscriminate nature of the military response may well be storing up resentment elsewhere.”
The Pakistani army estimates that it has killed 751 militants since the offensive began. President Asif Ali Zardari has vowed to see every single militant in the valley killed, which he estimated at 3,000. The military has put the figure at between 4,000 and 5,000. The war is planned to continue until the valley somehow reverts to normal.