200,000 Civilians Trapped in Northern Swat

Kalam Residents Tried Unsuccessfully to Oust Taliban

Roughly 200,000 civilians remain trapped in the northern Swat Valley as the bulk of Pakistan’s military engages in a slow battle further south attempting to unseat the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and assorted other militant factions from control over the region.

The situation in the north is increasingly dire, as TTP patrols block the roads into southern Swat. In the town of Kalam, the residents tried unsuccessfully to oust the Taliban from their town, but were eventually forced to accept a cease-fire against the militants. The town of Bahrain reports they are running out of food, and have had no provisions from the government.

The only way to escape from the northernmost portions of Swat is through mountain passes, but earlier this week the Pakistani military attacked and killed several civilians trying to leave that way, making the voyage far too dangerous to be attempted.

The Pakistani raid on the Swat Valley has displaced roughly 1.5 million civilians, many of whom are living in poorly supplied government run camps. Yet while the government struggles to cope with the civilians who have managed to escape its onslaught, they appear to be content to leave an enormous number of trapped civilians to fend for themselves, even as they plan for more such offensives.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.