02 million refugees returning home but doubts about permanent peace

SWAT Valley Food QueueLatest reports from Pakistan say authorities have begun sending home some of the 02 million people displaced by military action in the troubled Swat Valley. In the height of the massive crack down by the Pakistan army on Taliban forces, reports said the displaced numbers were going beyond 03 million.

With SAWT valley refugees going back home, the army claims it has been successful in uprooting the Taliban.

The exodus from the Swat Valley was described as one of the biggest human migrations of recent times.

The huge displacement of the civilian population stretched Pakistan’s resources to breaking point and prompted a global appeal for humanitarian aid.

One man preparing to leave a refugee camp said: “We’re thankful to the government for all the facilities here. We’re very thankful they’re sending us home now. Peace is our main priority now.”

Another man returning home said: “I am scared of going. If I go back and there’s another battle then I have to come back again. Anything can happen there.”

While people were eager and happy to get back to their villages and homes, the sentiments on peace were mixed. While the army was certain it had uprooted the Taliban, not all people believed it.

The army says more than 1,700 militants were killed in the fighting; independent casualty estimates are unavailable.

Experts, however, point out that none of the Taliban’s leaders were among those killed, leading to fears the fighters could re-emerge.

The Pakistan’s war against Taliban is not limited to land within its boundaries and its boundaries are not all sealed and secure. Afghan war is one that is fought from in and out of Pakistan. There is no clear distinction or separation between the Taliban groups fighting in Afghanistan and those who ran SWAT valley before the April military crackdown. “Of course there are different names to them”, said one Islamic fundamentalist analyst.

There is heavy trafficking of arms and weaponry across these borders and moving militants too. The worst is the “ideology” that is transported across borders. The issue of militarily eliminating Taliban groups in Pakistan would not end with SWAT valley getting cleaned up for now. It would remain a larger political issue. Afghanistan’s capacity of democratizing itself outside military interventions by the US is vital too.

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