Tens of thousands flee as the army faces the Taliban in Swat
Over the past few days the Taliban and army have been clashing in the main regional city Mingora, once a renowned destination for skiers which now lies devastated by two years of Taliban warfare. Swat’s top official, Khushal Khan, confirms that the radical militants are infiltrating strategic points and mining the territory. According to authorities 500 thousand people are seeking refuge. The army is preparing 6 camps to shelter them.
The crisis has worsened on the eve of direct talks between the US President Barak Obama and the Pakistani and Afghan Presidents, Asif Ali Zardari and Hamid Karzai.
Obama is expected to urge Zardari to put a stop to Taliban who are using Pakistan as a base from which to launch their attacks in Afghanistan. According to US presidential advisor Richard Holbroocke, without Pakistan’s help the United States cannot win the war in Kabul.
The pact between the government of the North West Frontier Province (Nwfp) and the Taliban foresaw the introduction of Sharia the area, as of February 16th last, in exchange for a ceasefire. On April 13th last Zardari signed a decree validating the deal. As the Taliban began summary executions for adultery, public lashings for ‘immoral behaviour’, the closure of girls schools and banned women from appearing in public, in public society particularly among women’s groups criticism of Zardari has grown.