Battlemap of Swat operations; blue arrow arrows are the Pakistani Army advance to date.. Click map to view.
The Pakistani military continues its slow push through the Taliban controlled regions of Swat. While the government has claimed much of the settled district is under control, press reports indicate only half of Swat has been clear of Taliban fighters of Maulana Fazlullah’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law).
Pakistani forces have been moving northward from the neighboring district of Mardan since late October. Based on reporting from Dawn, the military has only advanced as far north as Matta and Khwazakhela to the east. This is in stark contrast to military reports that most of Swat is under control. The military has imposed a 24-hour curfew in Swat, apparently to facilitate the movement of more troops into the region.
Troops from neighboring Shangla in the east also advanced into the Matta region. Fazlullah’s forces seized Shangla in November and subsequently abandoned much of the settled district. The military plans to build a base in Matta to prevent the region from falling to Fazlullah’s fighters in the future, but only “if the people of Swat want the army to stay here,” Dawn reported. “The government was working on a Sharia package for Swat and said people would soon hear some ‘good news’ about it.”
The imposition of Sharia law is one of the key demands of Fazlullah, along with the release of Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the TNSM that sent over 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces in 2001. Sufi was released in mid-November.
Fazlullah’s forces are reportedly still in control of the Choprial and Peuchaar near Matta, “where militants reportedly have training camps.” The resort towns of Madyan and Bahrain to the north, “which also have been vacated by militants,” are still absent of a military presence.
Fazlullah is rumored to have fled to the neighboring district of Dir, where the TNSM maintain influence. Bajaur agency further to the west is currently a TNSM and al Qaeda stronghold and may be a destination for Fazlullah if he cannot re-establish himself in Swat. He was last heard from on December 2, when he broadcast on his illegal FM radio channel, which was being jammed by the military.
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