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EditorialGuns in the land of roses - Swat

Guns in the land of roses – Swat

The scenic valley of Swat has once again been infested with the Taliban. Earlier in August, reports of Taliban returning to Swat emerged along with videos of members of the banned outfit holding public servants hostage. Since then, the atmosphere of the district is heavy with a looming threat of attacks. On September 13, an attack was carried out against the Aman Committee head Idrees Khan. Along with him, seven other people lost their lives including two policemen and a child. Shortly after the attack, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for this gruesome act. As per their statement, the peace committee head had been on their target list for the past 13 years.

Citizens of Swat emerged on the streets to protest against the attack carried out by the Taliban. When the first wave of terrorism hit the Swat and Malakand Divison in 2007, the people suffered immensely. Under the Taliban regime, public hangings were commonplace, television was outlawed, and girls were forbidden from attending school. It was only in 2009 when the Pakistan Army cleared the area with an extensive military operation that the people of Swat gained some semblance of peace and security. Until then, the district was a carbon copy of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Those who suffered at the hands of the terrorist organization in the previous attempt to take over have now come out on the streets to protest and rightfully so. However, the hardliner Sunni extremists have crept into the towns carrying Kalashnikovs in order to threaten the peace of the area, once again.

The people of Swat are now questioning how the Taliban have come to Swat and how have they established networks that are allowing them to carry out these activities. Swat does not have any borders with Afghanistan that can allow the inflow of Taliban from that side of the border. The people are asking why the intelligence agencies are not informing the relevant authorities of such movements and if they are why are the relevant authorities not taking any notice or action. Those who suffered 13 years ago are genuinely concerned as they have seen the horrors these men bring along with them.

The most plausible explanation is that of the government’s negotiation with the Taliban. The previous government had drawn up plans for rehabilitating the Taliban and this one is also trying to negotiate with them and the Afghan Taliban. Although the Afghan Taliban do not claim any responsibility for the actions of TTP, they are very well networked with the leaders of TTP and support them in any way they can. The Pakistani government accepted many of the TTP’s demands during its negotiations in Kabul. Many of the group’s senior leaders were released from prison after receiving presidential pardons. One of the accepted clauses appears to be the Taliban’s return to Swat. The government has been repeatedly chastised for being lenient with the Taliban and even appeasing the militant group in order to improve relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This appeasement will only lead to Pakistan suffering once again at the hands of these militants. With increasing insurgency not only do these militants kill people but drone attacks carried out on the account of the US also lead to many damages.

Pakistan should remain vigilant and must not let these militants enter the country as they only bring destruction with them. The country is already suffering due to other factors, another one would not be of any help.

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