Pakistan is claiming to have landed a new blow on the Taliban, arresting the insurgents’ spokesman in the Swat Valley. Muslim Khan is the most senior Taliban figure to be arrested since troops entered Swat in the Spring. He was the public face of the Taliban in Swat. His leader, Maulana Fadlullah, is still free, but Khan’s arrest will somewhat ease America’s fears that its nuclear-armed ally could fall to the Taliban.
Pakistan says more than 2000 Taliban fighters and 300 soldiers have died in the Swat offensive. Much of the valley is under army control, but there are still pockets of resistance. While the army continues its operation in Swat, it has also launched attacks near the Khyber Pass, where militants have threatened convoys carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan. The twin offensives have done much to reassure Washington of Pakistan’s commitment to fighting the rising tide of Islamic militancy.