Pakistanis frustrated over army’s unwillingness to kill or capture FazlullahJune 2nd, 2009 - 6:37 pm ICT by ANI
New York, June 2 (ANI): The Pakistan Army”s offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley may have the terrorist outfit on run, but US officials and Pakistani citizens are frustrated that the military is unwilling or unable to kill or capture Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, despite monitoring him.
Recently, the Pakistani military intercepted communications show that it has insurgents on the run in the Swat Valley.
“How are you? Is everything all right?” said the Taliban commander in the Swat Valley, Maulana Fazlullah, according to the military officials, who said they intercepted the conversation as it crackled over a handheld radio.
There was no response, The New York Times reports. “Don’t lose morale. Go into the trees and take the sniper rifles with you. Take aim and fire. You should be able to kill at least one or two,” Fazlullah said.
The Pakistani military officials contended that the snippets were proof that the militants had suffered a serious setback in Swat.
Millions of Pakistanis who have fled Swat and other conflict areas are reluctant to return to their homes. A group of liberal activists from Swat said they would not believe that the military was serious about its campaign unless Fazlullah and his five deputies were killed.
The Swat campaign, which began May 8, is seen as a test of Pakistan’s resolve to tackle its spreading insurgency, which came as close as 60 miles from its capital, Islamabad, this year, The NYT reports.
Two earlier offensives failed, criticized as half-hearted efforts that inflicted too many civilian casualties. But this operation is different, military officials contend, because the army has committed more than twice the number of troops and has broad public support to re-establish government’s authority in the area.
Although the military campaign in Swat is not over, the militant chatter in recent weeks sounded gloomy, according to the log presented by the Pakistani military officials.
The militants were careful not to give the names of locations, using a system of code names instead, many of them Arabian battles. The military believes that top leaders, including Mr. Fazlullah, are still hiding in Swat, and have not escaped to another area.
A Pakistani military official said that the operation had reduced the area for the FM radio station run by Mr. Fazlullah to just 15 percent of its former coverage area. (ANI)
Tags: capital islamabad, civilian casualties, conflict areas, deputies, handheld radio, insurgency, liberal activists, militants, military campaign, military officials, new york times, nyt, paki, pakistan army, pakistani citizens, pakistanis, setback, sniper rifles, snippets, swat valley