After weeks of high profile killings in the Swat Valley, there is increasing concern that the region, declared “Taliban-free” by the military after the 2009 US-backed offensive, is still rife with militants.
The Swat Valley offensive was always sort of an unusual case, as it focused on the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which never had a particularly large presence in the region. The “Taliban” group of choice for most residents was rather the Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM), a much larger but less violent group, and it was the TNSM-brokered peace deal which so enraged the US and led to the offensive.
The offensive lasted much of the summer, driving millions of Swatis from their homes into refugee camps, and the region is only now getting back to some degree of normalcy. A normalcy which, irksomely enough after the military claimed the offensive was so successful, seems to be including the same old violent killings.
Pakistan’s Army doesn’t seem particularly concerned though, claiming that the killings of several anti-Taliban leaders “do not mean that the Taliban can return to any organized form to the Swat Valley.”
It wasn’t so many years ago that the Swat Valley was a lush tourist attraction. Despite the military’s confidence that the targeted killings are no big deal, it seems unlikely the tourism industry will return any time soon.