Pakistani military makes significant advances against Taliban: Media (Lead)

May 14th, 2009 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 14 (IANS) The Pakistani military has made “significant advances” against the Taliban in the troubled northwest, an editorial in a leading English daily said Thursday, as another noted that the operation had also served to unite the country across the spectrum.
“It is clear that significant advances have been made in recent days and the Taliban are now on the defensive,” Dawn said in an editorial headlined “As the battle heats up”.

“Given the appeasement policies of successive governments, perhaps they never expected so ferocious a response,” it added.

The editorial came as heliborne troops, after a day-long battle, Thursday took control of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah’s headquarters in the Peochar Valley.

Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government and whose violation by the militants had prompted the military action April 26.

Over 800 militants have so far been killed in the military operations, which began in the Lower Dir district and then spread to Buner and Swat.

The capture of Peochar “will have a huge bearing on the wider fight against militancy”, the editorial said, adding that the capture or surrender of Fazlullah may demoralise the militants who still control Mingora, Swat’s largest city, “and lead to desertions in other areas as well”.

This apart, a rout of the Fazlullah-led Taliban “may also destabilise their counterparts in the tribal belt, which must become the focus of counter-insurgency efforts once peace is achieved in Swat”.

At the same time, the editorial noted that a Taliban setback in Swat could “also produce the reverse effect in the tribal areas. It may serve as a catalyst for binding together the loose confederation of militants operating there and ultimately produce a more united fighting force”.

Daily Times noted that the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, had lined up behind the military operation.

During a debate in the house, politicians across the spectrum “were of the opinion that it should be pursued till the end of the Taliban terrorists to avoid a national disaster.

“Independent surveys tell the same story. Over 70 percent people in Pakistan agree that the Pakistan Army has to face up to the Taliban threat,” the editorial, headlined “Going after the terrorists in Swat”, said.

The prestige of Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had gone up as had that of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the editorial added.

“The media has also lined up behind the operation realising that it is now a national cause, not a little affected by the reckless killing and banning of journalists by the Taliban,” the editorial said.

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