Pakistani forces regain control of region in Swat

The Pakistani military retook control of a Taliban-controlled district of Swat six days after launching the latest operation designed to free the region from extremist control.

Heavy fighting was reported in the Charbagh area and other regions as Pakistani forces launched air and artillery attacks against suspected Taliban strongholds. Forty-five civilians, 16 Taliban fighters, and four security personnel were killed over the past day during fighting throughout the district.

In Charbagh, “20 bodies of unidentified people are lying in crop fields,” Geo News reported. Pakistani forces were issued orders to “shoot to kill” anyone violating the curfew imposed in Swat last week. Also, two paramedics were killed and another was wounded when they attempted to recover the bodies of those killed in the Charbagh fighting.

Nine civilians were killed after artillery shells landed on their homes during the fighting. Ten more bodies, including the body of a police constable, were found in other regions. Three soldiers were also killed in an ambush.

The military has relied on artillery and airstrikes to drive Taliban forces from their safe havens. Pakistani troops have taken heavy casualties when confronting Taliban fighters on the ground during past engagements in the tribal agencies and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. The military tactics and Taliban terror campaign have forced more than 200,000 civilians to flee Swat. Hundreds of thousands fled the nearby tribal agency of Bajaur during a similar operation late last year.

The lack of concurrent military operations in the neighboring districts under Taliban control or influence has allowed Taliban fighters under the command of radical cleric Mullah Fazlullah to vacate Swat during previous operations. The Taliban forces returned and consolidated their control of the district.

Last week, the Pakistani government claimed to have a new, “secret” strategy which it was launching in Swat. Then government refused to disclose the details of the strategy. Rehman Malik, the advisor to Prime Minister Gilani on interior security issues, said the military was following the same strategy used by the military in the tribal agencies of Hangu, Khyber, and Bajaur. But these regions remain under Taliban control.

The current operation in Swat is the third operation launched to clear the region of the Taliban since 2007.

The Pakistani military boasted twice during the past two years that it would regain control of Swat. After launching the first operation to clear Swat in early November 2007, the military claimed it would clear the district by mid-December of that year. After half a year of brutal fighting, the government negotiated a peace accord with Fazlullah in May 2008. Fighting restarted in July 2008. The government said the operation would be completed by September 2008.

For more information on the recent fighting in Swat, see:

Pakistan relaunches Swat operation

January 27, 2009

Swat Taliban summon government officials to sharia courts

January 25, 2009

Taliban rule Pakistan’s ‘valley of death’

January 23, 2009

Pakistan ‘lost control’ in Swat

December 6, 2008

Pakistan launches operation in Swat

October 26, 2007

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Marlin says:

    Gilani was out touting at Davos what he calls the ‘3 Ds’ strategy for resolving the Swat issue. I wish I had some confidence that Pakistan actually had the resources to pull this off. I believe the only chance they have is if Petraeus/Obama find a way to provide them some support.

    “There was unanimity that army operations were not the only solution to terrorism. They also supported our three Ds strategy of dialogue, development and deterrence,”

  • Micah says:

    Hmm, the number of Taliban casualties don’t seem very high. Seems like its just another case of the Taliban staying quiet for a few weeks then just taking back the turf. Unless the Pakistani troops actually hold the turf with troops

  • viliger says:

    Too true, Marlin….for now the 3D seems to be the old dimensions–denial, delusion and delay!
    Yes its a good sign they got out into the field and did something in Swat, but as Bill points out there is little or no coordination or cohesion, allowing the terrorists to regroup and live to fight another day.
    As for Gilani’s comments, is their any evidence to support his claim that that world leaders are buying into his ‘new’ strategy. I see at just more words….and it would appear that the more they repeat themselves, the only ones left believing their propaganda is themselves…
    Its all the more surprising for they don’t seem to be reading Obama’s lips–perform first, aid after.

  • This article states that, “The military tactics and Taliban terror campaign have forced more than 200,000 civilians to flee Swat.” What I can never understand is why don’t these people ever stand up to the Taliban and try to defeat it? Let’s say that out of the 200,000 civilians, 75,000 are men capable of fighting. Why don’t they take up arms against the Taliban if they hate it so much? Even if only 50,000 did so, it would probably be more than what the Taliban could field at any given time. It seems that, in this part of the world, these same people never seem to have any troubles recruiting men to overthrow a government, but they never seem to ever have eough people willing to defend it. At what point does the West say, “They get what they deserve?” After all, if the people in Pakistan are not will to fight for their own country, the West certainly isn’t going to be able to do it for them (nor should it).

  • Marlin says:

    It appears the Pakistani military is still moving against the Taliban in Swat on Monday.

    Large number of militants are reported to have been killed in military operation launched here in Alam Ganj area in Charbagh.

    Geo TV:Many militants reported killed in Swat operation

  • Alex says:

    Promising, but we’ve been disappointed before.

  • Paddy says:

    The Pak’ government and army do not want peace in FATA, that would stop US spec ial ally status against the so called WOT and dry up “jizzya” we pay through taxes.
    Swat and its pronounced :SWAHth” not Swat, has some beautiful country and fairly nice people, untill they were infested with the true teachings of islam.
    At our site (Center for Strategic Analysis) we have done numerous analysis and made recommendations on how to solve the Pakistan issue – it is an illegal state and its return to India (they don’t want it) or breakup into Baluchistan, Sindh and Pakhoonistan, would sove most of the issues there

  • Marlin says:

    More details on the military operations in Swat today. Yes, I know to take Pakistani military press releases with a grain of salt.

    The death tally of militants, amid separate skirmishes between miscreants and security forces, has climbed to 35 on Monday, according to security forces’ assertion.
    As per sources militants’ hideouts, in separate areas in Swat including Char Bagh and Khwaz Khela…

    Geo TV: Security forces claim killing 35 militants in Swat
    But as Bill has been pointing out forever, these types of operations are having very little noticeable effect on the populace.

    Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar has said that she has decided to postpone the all parties’ conference (APC) called to discuss the prevailing situation in Swat particularly with regard to destruction of schools.
    Addressing a news conference here on Monday, she said the conference, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Feb 3, has been postponed for an indefinite period due to security reasons.

    Geo TV: Nilofar puts off Swat APC on security grounds

  • Marlin says:

    The StrategyPage has been following the Swat issue like Bill. They have an interesting article up today as well.

    The Swat Valley has long been a front line in the cultural battle between the clannish, and religiously conservative Pushtun tribesmen, and the better educated, less doctrinaire people from the lowland areas of Punjab and Sind. The Taliban seek to establish the primacy of their way of life, and that means no schools for girls, and no outside cultural influences (music, videos). The Taliban are willing to kill to get their way. The government has agreed to a death match with the Taliban over the issue, and troops are once more moving on the areas where the Taliban have tried to set themselves up as the local government in the Swat Valley.

    StrategyPage: Coming Out Swinging In Swat

  • bard207 says:

    Pakistan appears to do OK at standoff distances using aircraft and artillery against the Taliban & assorted militants, but isn’t always eager for closer engagement using boots on the ground.
    The second half is the interesting part.
    Pakistan has asked and continues to ask for more and better equipment, but it appears their primary need is of something more basic that comes from within.
    The Taliban lacked attack aircraft and heavy weapons, yet the Pakistani troops broke and ran.
    India has attack aircraft and heavy weapons, so no idea why Pakistan thinks it has a chance in a Pakistan — India conflcit if their troops are going to be routed like those in the video were.

  • Render says:

    Anybody know if the Pakistani or Sri Lankan armies are using WP in their artillery strikes?


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