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PostSubject: The exodus   Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:59 am

The exodus




Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Mir Jamilur Rahman


It is reported that over three million people of Malakand and Swat have been displaced and have sought refuge at safer places. They were forced to abandon their ancestral homes because the Taliban had broken the peace terms as signed between them and the government. The government was left with no option but to order the army to flush out the extremist elements from areas occupied by the Taliban. The army has performed a commendable job. It has forced the Taliban to vacate their strongholds and lay down their arms. Some political elements, especially JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, are now offering their services to talk to Taliban leaders for a truce.

The Taliban have already destroyed a truce and cannot be trusted to honour another truce. A truce at this juncture will provide breathing space to the Taliban to muster their militant strength and supplies of arms and ammo. In no time they will be ready to take on the army once again. The peace is imperative but not at the terms of the Taliban and at the cost of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The Taliban are insurgents and should be treated as such. If they want a truce, they should first disarm and surrender those leaders who are wanted by the government. If they fulfil these two conditions, only then talks could be held to establish peace.

Baitullah Mehsud after owning the recent suicide attack in Lahore has threatened more such bombings if the government does not stop the military operation in Swat and Buner. The nation, although worried, is not terrified any more. People are going through great hardships because of the numerous security checks in major cities. But they are accepting restrictions on their movements because they want to see the end of Taliban banditry once and for all.

The exodus of over three million people has posed a great challenge to the people and the government of Pakistan. There is no instance in history that such a large number of people have moved from one location to another within their own country. The international community as usual is very slow in its reaction. Except for the US and Turkey, which were quick to send cash and relief goods, other countries are taking their time. It appears that the bigger burden will fall on Pakistanis although most European countries admit that Pakistan’s war against terrorism will provide them with greater safety. The people of Pakistan have responded most generously by donating cash and goods. The bigger test will come when IDPs start returning home. That day is not far because the government has announced that Buner has been cleared of the Taliban and asked IDPs from Buner to return home.

With the return of IDPs the most difficult phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction will start. The houses, schools, hospitals and government buildings will have to be rebuilt. Infrastructure of roads and telecommunication will have to be revived. Pakistan is capable of bringing Swat, Buner and Malakand back to civilisation.

The discovery of a large quantity of modern arms and ammo stored in tunnels clearly points out the fact that the Taliban had plans to capture the Swat, Buner and adjoining territories bit by bit and then make this captured territory the launching pad to make advances in other areas. The army after reoccupying Swat has now engaged the Taliban in Lower Dir and South Waziristan. In a few days these areas will also be cleared of the Taliban.
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