Fazlullah, other top Taliban commanders have 'escaped' Swat offensive: Report

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Washington, July 31 (ANI): A report in the US based Long War Journal has revealed that most of the Swat Taliban's top commanders, including Mullah Fazlullah aka Radio Mullah, have 'escaped the Pakistani government's operation.'

The journal cited a self proclaimed Taliban spokesman, as saying that Fazlullah and other top commanders are safe and reports about him being grievously wounded are not true.

The Pakistan Army which launched a massive operation to root out the Taliban and other extremist outfits from Swat and Malakand Divisions is still struggling to get hold of the region even after three months of military combat with the insurgents.

Islamabad has declared the offensive a 'success', claiming to have killed more than 1,800 militants, but it has failed to provide any evidence that the insurgents have actually been forced to retreat.

US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke recently had also cast doubt over Pakistan's claims saying that the exact number of militants killed in the offensive is yet to be ascertained.

"We don't know exactly to what extent the Pakistani Army dispersed or destroyed the enemy," Holbrooke told reporters after returning from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"The test of this operation is, of course, when the refugees return. Can they go home? Are they safe? And we're just going to have to wait and see," he said.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), security forces also acknowledge the danger of the Taliban melting away into the local population and staging guerrilla attacks later when the displaced people start returning home.

Military experts say it is difficult to identify the Taliban and what their strategic goals may be.

"The Taliban may not want to seize territory but simply to keep the government, the military and common people surrounded by fear.Their agenda is going to be to keep on reminding us they are a powerful force," a senior military official said. (ANI)

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