Pakistan says it is on the verge of driving Taliban fighters out of the Swat valley.
It means hundreds of thousands of people who fled the month-long offensive can start returning to their homes, or what is left of them. Parts of Mingora, Swat’s main town, lie in ruins and some residents accuse the army of heavy-handed and indiscriminate tactics. Some witnesses said that when the troops arrived they killed more civilians than they did Taliban. Pakistan was under significant pressure from the United States to repel the Taliban’s advance in Swat and an army spokesman insists civilians will be taken care of. “A team of 21 doctors with sufficient medicine has reached Mingora for re-establishing the civil hospital. Gas has been restored in Mingora City and sufficient numbesr of mobile generators have been provided to run the water scheme,” said Major General Athar Abbas. Pakistan’s defence minister says the push against the Taliban in the Swat region should be wrapped up within the next few days. Meanwhile the UN estimates that nearly 2.5 million people have fled the recent fighting. While some can soon start to return home, residents in northern Swat are being advised to leave their homes as the army continues to make gains.