Swat needs peace and development not Taliban

The ISPR statement will help to end the speculations and rumours regarding the return of Taliban militants in  Swat and Dir

The ISPR issued a timely and welcome statement regarding the return of Taliban militants in KP. The ISPR declared the reports of Taliban’s return in Swat and Dir districts as misleading and grossly exaggerated.

The statement of the military’s media wing came after the reports of re-emergence of Taliban fighters in some parts of Swat district and mass demonstrations against Taliban’s return. The fears of Taliban’s presence increased after militants attacked the police party and kidnapped some police officials in Swat district. The mysterious silence of the PTI government in KP also increased the confusion and give rise to rumours and speculations.  

This ISPR statement will help to clear the confusion and fears among the people. The people started to panic because Pakistani authorities and banned TTP are engaged in talks. Many people see the return of Taliban as part of a possible deal between Pakistani state and TTP. This statement will clarify the situation and help to end speculations and rumours in this regard.

The young people, local elected representatives and civil society organisations held demonstrations in the Swat areas of Mata, Kabal and Khaza Khela voicing their concern and worry at what seems to be a possible re-emergence of Taliban militants. the Mata is the hometown of CM KP Mehmood Khan. His silence on this issue give the impression that something is going on between Taliban and KP government. 

The pictures and videos of Taliban fighters roaming freely in the Mata Tehsil of Swat sent shock waves among the local people and tourists. The media reports created fears and panic in the local population. They expressed their fears and anger through the demonstrations. The media reports pointed out that a militant group has targeted the PTI MPA Malik Liaqat.  Malik Liaqat was injured in the attack and his brother and nephew were killed. This attack and phone calls for extortions also spread fear.

The scenic Swat valley and surrounding areas are tourist hotspots. Swat is one of the most beautiful mountainous region in the country and every year thousands of local tourists thronged to enjoy the natural beauty and pleasant weather of Swat.  

Thousands of local people depend on tourism for their livelihood. The reports of Taliban’s return spread fear among the local people and tourists. Some tourists started to cancel the hotel bookings.  The return of Taliban has spread a wave of fear and panic among the local residents, demanding the government take action against the militants. Residents in Dir also held a demonstration against allowing militants gaining a footstep in the region.

The people of KP in general and Swat in particular suffered a lot under Taliban rule between 2006-08. The women suffered even more as Taliban's reactionary ideas confined them to homes. The girls schools were closed and destroyed. The Swat under Taliban was converted into a killing field.

The local population went through the miserable time when Taliban fighters took over Swat and Malakand areas in 2006-08. The military launched the operation to flush out the Taliban and restore the writ of Pakistani state in Malakand division. Pakistan Army had conducted military operations Rahe Raast and Rahe Haq from 2007 to 2009 to retake control of Swat.

 The people of Swat suffered a lot during the Taliban control and the subsequent military operations. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. The Taliban established reign of terror in Swat in the name of Islam. They killed innocent people and destroyed local industries and businesses.

The fears expressed by the people are not completely baseless. These are based on the past experience. The people are not ready to go back to the dark age of destruction, killings, repression and reaction. They want peace and prosperity in their areas. They are justified in their concerns.

It is the responsibility of the state to maintain law and order and to provide protection and peaceful living. The KP government needs to take a clear position on this sensitive issue. The government shouldn’t appear as apologetic on Taliban. 

                                                                      The Editorial Board

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