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Old 05-05-2009, 04:46 PM
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Default 500,000 flee Taliban

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad, Ashfaq Yusufzai and Emal Khan in Peshawar
Last Updated: 10:13PM BST 05 May 2009

Up to 500,000 people are preparing to flee Pakistan's troubled Swat valley after the military gave warning it was about to launch a major operation to retake control of the region.

The authorities urged people to leave the area as troops gathered following the collapse of an agreement for militants to lay down their arms in return for the establishment of Sharia law.
Thousands took to the roads as Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), said camps would be set up for half a million refugees.

Bedraggled men, women in burkas and children piled on to pickup trucks, and led animals through streets in their haste to flee.
Clashes between security forces and militants in the north-west of Pakistan's have already created hundreds of thousands of refugees who have sought sanctuary in badly-supplied camps.
Fighting between the army and Taliban has continued with 20 civilians reported to have been killed in Swat as a result of mortar and artillery fire from security forces at the centre of Mingora, the district's capital.
The army said militants had attacked checkpoints and bases in four different locations in Swat, and that armed militants were now openly patrolling Mingora's streets.
Locals said the fighters had recruited young men, broadcast anti-government propaganda via FM radio stations and established trenches and laid mines throughout Mingora.
Khushal Khan, district co-ordination officer in Swat, said residents had been told to evacuate because there was a fear the Taliban could attack security forces with heavy weapons. The order was later rescinded when the attacks no longer seemed likely, causing more confusion.
"I'm taking my family to Peshawar because if there's any fighting, no one can protect us," said Mohammad Karim, as he searched for a bus heading out of the valley to Peshawar, the capital of NWFP.
Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the army spokesman, said: "The end of the ceasefire has not been announced but it is imminent. The way the Taliban has gone on the offensive locally, there is no other way out."
The February peace pact, under which authorities agreed to a Taliban demand for introduction of Islamic law in the former tourist valley, led to accusations from critics both at home and abroad that the government was caving in to militancy.
The government has claimed that by setting up Sharia courts in the region, it had appeased locals and drawn support away from militants.
"The people support us fighting against the militants. We have given them Sharia courts but the militants have still not laid down their weapons," said Zahid Khan, a senior leader of the NWFP's ruling Awami National Party.
Militants fought a long bloody battle with the army in Swat from August 2007 until this year's deal in February. The renewed fighting is expected to be far worse as the peace deal has given militants time to consolidate.
Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, said: "It is our responsibility to defend ourselves against military's operation. We have the right to defend ourselves.
"We have not broken the peace deal but the government had started operation in Buner and Dir to sabotage peace agreement."
Ali Jawad, a lecturer at the postgraduate Jehanzeb College in Swat, said people were very fearful. he said: "We are again at the mercy of Taliban after the breakdown of ceasefire. We fear the situation will go to square number one.
President Asif Ali Zardari is due to meet President Barack Obama and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in Washington today (Wednesday) for talks on the growing militant threat in the region.
Washington has accused Islamabad of abdicating to the Taliban while Mr Obama described the government as "very fragile".
Mr Zardari is expected to do his utmost to convince Mr Obama that his government is capable of tacking militancy.
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Last edited by Texas; 05-05-2009 at 04:51 PM..
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:49 PM
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The more militant Taliban elements have proven time and again that they hold sway within their own ranks, consequently we can't give them an inch.
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:21 PM
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Its funny how the Pakistanis are finally waking up to the problem...the problems in the border regions have always been there....FFS the Russians knew and had to try and deal with the same problems 20 odd years ago...Now its knocking on the Pakistanis government door they decide to make a decent commitment....the Pakistanis have let the Taliban go near enough unchecked in that area.... for over more then a decade the Taliban and its fighters from the outside have managed to cut off a pretty large section of Pakistan as "Safe ground"...the Taliban are as strong as they are now because of two things...Governments in that area didnt see the problem...and the two best countries to deal with it turned away and looked towards Iraq....we should have cleared the first objective completely before taking on more work
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Old 05-07-2009, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrj1000 View Post
Its funny how the Pakistanis are finally waking up to the problem...the problems in the border regions have always been there....FFS the Russians knew and had to try and deal with the same problems 20 odd years ago...Now its knocking on the Pakistanis government door they decide to make a decent commitment....the Pakistanis have let the Taliban go near enough unchecked in that area.... for over more then a decade the Taliban and its fighters from the outside have managed to cut off a pretty large section of Pakistan as "Safe ground"...the Taliban are as strong as they are now because of two things...Governments in that area didnt see the problem...and the two best countries to deal with it turned away and looked towards Iraq....we should have cleared the first objective completely before taking on more work
They're waking upto the fact that if they don't sort things out the US will do it for them!
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Old 05-08-2009, 11:53 AM
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They're waking upto the fact that if they don't sort things out the US will do it for them!
Yeah thats also a big factor...the Taliban area of control is getting bigger and it wont be long until its knocking on the door in Islamabad....that and the Yanks putting more of a squeeze on seems to be waking the Pakistanis up.

Ive got a feeling that sooner or later we are going to have to address the Pakistani Nuclear situation...if things get any worst they should be forced to hand them over...if not ISAF should take out the problem.
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrj1000 View Post
Yeah thats also a big factor...the Taliban area of control is getting bigger and it wont be long until its knocking on the door in Islamabad....that and the Yanks putting more of a squeeze on seems to be waking the Pakistanis up.

Ive got a feeling that sooner or later we are going to have to address the Pakistani Nuclear situation...if things get any worst they should be forced to hand them over...if not ISAF should take out the problem.
The ISAF crossing over would be an issue. Pakistan is SOF territory. The ISAF is an occupation force that would piss off the Pakistanis that would undoubtedly lead to UN resolutions and the works clogging up clean up operations.
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