Pakistan says victory over the Taliban in Swat is just days away.
The Pakistani army is on the verge of clearing the Swat valley of Taliban militants, according to the country’s Defence Minister. Syed Athar Ali was speaking at a security conference in Singapore. He said: “Operations in Swat, Buner and adjoining areas have almost met complete success, only five to ten percent are remaining. Hopefully in the next two to three days, these pockets of resistance will be cleared and thereafter the reconstruction work will start in order to allow the IDPs (Internally Displaced People) to come back to their home areas.” Yesterday the army said it had won back control of Swat’s main town, Mingora. Troops were sent in to the region earlier this month to repel Taliban fighters who had advanced to within 100 kilometers of the capital, Islamabad. There had been fears over the stability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal but the Defence Minister said in Singapore that that threat too was under control. The UN estimates the conflict has created nearly 2.5 million IDPs. Many refugees hope to return home in the coming week but residents in northern Swat are being advised to leave their homes as the military push advances.