Most Dangerous Trouble Spot In The World Update
Pakistan has begun to bombard Taliban military positions in the Swat Valley, claiming to have killed 700 militants thus far. Refugee camps are filled to bursting as hundreds of thousands flee the generally urban areas, with 200,000 already arrived and up to 600,000 expected shortly.
So the Pakistani military is engaging in the same strategy of bombing raids that has angered the public when the US military engages in it. Juan Cole writes:
I am fearful that in order to root out a few thousand Taliban, the Pakistani military has been induced by Washington to create a new and massive social problem in the NWFP, which could create a whole new recruiting pool for radicals. The displaced Afghans of the 1980s, after all, were the group from which the Taliban were later drawn. It will be key, in avoiding this scenario, to have good swift repatriation programs when the fighting is over. And, the Pakistani military will have to learn to stick around instead of hurrying back to the border with India, in order to keep the militants from just coming right back in and terrorizing locals again.
This whole operation seems designed to reassure the Americans, through using their methods. A short-term bombing campaign without a sustained effort to keep the Swat Valley safe and populated with those displaced will fail, and probably make things worse.