Pakistani Taliban Threaten Swat Valley, Locals March to Protest


The recent incident where one man was killed and two students injured when unidentified militants opened fire on a school van in Charbagh tehsil brings to the fore the return of the Tehreek e Taliban in Swat. After the incident, hundreds of students and teachers took to the streets in several areas to protest against the rising tide of insurgency in the area.


This is not the first time that Swat residents have sounded the alarm over the presence of militants in the area. As an investigative report in Dawn noted, “For the past several months, they have been sending clear messages and warnings to all sides since members of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) surfaced in the mountainous region. In August earlier this year, the militants detained police personnel and an army officer after the law enforcement officials launched an operation to capture the TTP militants.”


According to Dawn, “the return of TTP militants to their respective areas is part of the TTP-government negotiations being held in Kabul, Afghanistan, but no agreement has been reached to this effect. It therefore remains unclear who, if anyone for that matter, allowed the militants to return before a formal deal had been reached.”


In middle August “the military’s media wing issued a statement, saying the presence of a “small number of armed men on a few mountaintops between Swat and Dir has been observed”, located far away from population.” However, locals are not convinced. “They reason that it is not easy to return from Afghanistan to Swat valley, which does not share a border. The latter argue that they entered Dir district and later reached Swat and that it would hence be difficult to transport weapons along the route.”


The massive rally in Swat was “a message to all, especially those who have decision-making power in security-related matters. As the security institutions are primarily involved in talks with the TTP, it is their responsibility to assuage the people’s apprehensions, which would not be possible as long as the negotiations are shrouded in secrecy.”


Author: Zahid Khan