Swat landowners reluctant to return fearing Taliban retaliation

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New York, July 28 (ANI): Hundreds of people who were forced to flee their homes due to the military offensive in Swat and Malakand Divisions have started to return, but the wealthy landlords of the Valley are reluctant to return as they fear retaliation from the Taliban.

As none of the top Taliban leader is killed or nabbed in the military offensive, these landlords fear another uprising of the extremists.

Many of them have now decided to shift out of the valley permanently, The New York Times reports.

"The top guns of the Taliban are still in Swat, or perhaps in neighboring Dir.These people should be arrested. If they are not arrested, they are going to come back," said the mayor of Swat, Jamal Nasir.

Nasir, who is also a landowner, now stays in his house in Islamabad.

Some of the landowners are angry over the way the Army treated them during the offensive. They do not trust the troops as they failed to provide security to them when needed.

"We have sacrificed so much, what has the government and the military done for us?" asked Sher Shah Khan, a Swat landholder.

Sher Mohammad, a landlord and a prominent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader of the region said people now did not trust the security forces.

"They said, we will protect you, I said, we don't trust you," Mohammad recalled saying at a meeting with the military in Peshawar.

The reluctance of the landowners to return is a significant blow to the Pakistan military's campaign to restore Swat as a stable and prosperous part of the country and also presents an ample opportunity to the Taliban to utilise the condition of the region according to their advantage. (ANI)

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