Pakistan steps up offensive in Swat Valley as Obama meets Zardari and Karzai

Swat Valley, Pakistan- Pakistani armed forced launched ground and air attacks against more than 7000 Taliban militants in the troubled northwestern Swat valley in Pakistan killing dozens of militants. As the fragile peace treaty between the Pakistani government and the Taliban militants broke down in the last few weeks, the fighting has intensified in the region and there are reports of some 500,000 civilians from the region who have become refugees and have fled the area.

 

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met with US President Obama and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in Washington DC over how to tackle the Taliban and militant threat in their countries. The administration of President Obama is urging both countries to step up the fight against the insurgents. The US wants to see a sustained operation in the Swat valley as earlier short and inconclusive offensives have not done any damage to the Taliban’s strength and organization in the region. The area has become a haven for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters who are blamed for the up tick in the violence in the region.

 

There appears to be a shift in the popular perception of the average Pakistani after the Taliban were blamed for a series of bloody terrorist attacks in the heartland province, Punjab. Also a widely broadcast video last month of the Taliban insurgents beating a woman in the Swat valley have hardened the stance of the ordinary citizen against the Taliban. It seems as though the authorities have finally realized the intensity and danger of the threat posed from the militants and there is widespread hope both within Pakistan and abroad that this time the government of Zardari will be more resolute in dealing with the danger posed by the Taliban.

 

The situation in Afghanistan and especially Pakistan is seen as the most pressing foreign policy issue facing the Obama administration as a failed Pakistani state will be a catastrophic situation for the region and the world. The fear is that an unchecked Taliban will be successful in toppling the weak government of Zardari and turn Pakistan into a failed state like Somalia. And in a country with nuclear weapons, militant groups like the Taliban and Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and trouble on both the eastern border with India and the western with Afghanistan, this is not an outcome that the Obama administration would ever want to see come true. There is hope that with the trilateral meetings with Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US in Washington DC this week, a renewed focus and strategy on tackling the Taliban will be successful in ending the militant threat from the Taliban. At the very least one hopes that it will be successful in weakening their power and in sending them scurrying back into the mountains.

 

As reported by Manzer Munir for http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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