Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The reconstruction of the valley of Swat and Malakand division, theatre of war between the Pakistani army and Islamist extremists, will cost billions of U.S. dollars. So says a senior UN official, who advocates "a generous response" in aid from the international community. In the country, meanwhile, the fundamentalist’s propaganda continues: the former preacher of the Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, threatens a "bloodbath" if Islamic law is not introduced.
John Holmes, UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, warns that there is still no guarantee of security in some areas in north-west Pakistan - near the border with Afghanistan - even though the government has “started preparations for the return of some displaced persons".
The introduction of Shariah in Swat, by the government of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in February, led to a bloody conflict between the fundamentalists - who sought further concessions and the application of Islamic law throughout the country - and the government army. The war has caused some two million refugees, many of whom still live in temporary shelters. The UN official calls "favourable conditions" for their return, including the guarantee of “basic services and security”.
The Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has thanked the United Nations for their work for the victims of war. He confirmed the return, Monday July 13, of a first part of the refugees to the area made safe by the army. The Red Cross, meanwhile, has launched a new alarm: the arrival of the monsoon could worsen the conditions of IDPs in camps and is seeking their transfer to more secure areas.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Islamic fundamentalism continues its propaganda campaign, announcing "bloodshed" if Islamic law is not introduced throughout the country. The new invective was launched yesterday by the religious leader Maulana Abdul Aziz, leader of the revolt at the Red Mosque in 2007. During the Friday prayer he demanded the "government introduce the Shariah through the National Assembly", threatening a "bloody revolution" if the request is not accepted.
Yesterday the BBC sources in Pakistan reported that Maulana Fazlullah - the head of Taliban guerrillas in Swat - was "badly hurt" during the recent offensive of the Pakistan army and is "close to death." Fazlullah is the founder of the Taliban movement which took power in the valley following the introduction of Islamic law, leading the revolt against the government. According to a witness he "does not have access to medical care and is dying."