According to Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the military has surrounded the leader of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s Swat Valley auxiliary, Maulana Fazlullah, and he will soon be captured. Malik touted the impending capture as a great victory, and insisted the government has broken the back of “anti-state” elements in the restive valley.
The news comes just days after the military announced that it had captured the group’s spokesman Muslim Khan and several other figures from the group. This has fueled hope that the after months of open warfare Swat may soon return to normalcy.
Yet the reality is something else entirely. The war against the TTP has destroyed much of the valley’s infrastructure, and estimates from the World Bank say it will take a minimum of $2.5 billion to repair the area, and will take at least three years. Likewise, the surprising number of landmines and other unexploded ordinance that are laying around the area have created considerable casualties among returning refugees.
Moreover, even if one assumes the military has finally thoroughly defeated one of the TTP’s smaller auxiliaries, the problems that created the unrest in the first place remain, and the Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM), which has always been the much larger opposition group in the Swat and the rest of Malakand, has remained largely untouched by the offensive.