Pak's Swat Valley fears dark battles ahead

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Mingora (Swat, Pakistan), Aug.3 (ANI): Beneath the surface of relative calm in the Swat Valley, there is a sense of both fear and hope over whether peace will ever return to the area in the wake of the military offensive against the Taliban.

According to a New York Times report, Mingora, the battle-scarred capital city of the Swat Valley, remains tense, and Pakistan's efforts to restore normalcy is being seen as a vital test of the government's resolve to stand up to the Taliban.

Schools have officially reopened. Soldiers stand guard at checkpoints and have established a semblance of order. Many thousands have returned to the town, but victory against the militants is still a distant goal.

On Sunday morning, a body, hands bound with rope and shot in the back of the head, lay on the sidewalk of a main road. A note pinned to the shirt and written in Urdu said "Enemy of Swat." There was a suggestion that the armed forces were behind it.

Rumors abound of other bodies being dumped in the last two weeks, a signal that the army may be prepared to use extra-judicial killings to settle scores.

Asked about the identity of the man, an army commander told the NYT with a grin, "Maybe a bad guy."

Military spokesman Major Nasir Khan said the army was unaware of the death and did not condone extra-judicial killings.

If no one knew precisely what to make of the body, it was a clear enough sign that the conflict in Swat was not over.

Though Taliban fighters have melted away to the periphery of Swat or to neighboring areas, there is an underlying fear that the insurgents would return.

The failure to kill or capture Taliban leaders has left many here suspicious that the military is not serious about taking on the Taliban. For the moment though, the military's presence is being tolerated. (ANI)

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