Pak Army's 'omnipresence' in Swat casts shadow on civilian government's efficacy

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Washington, Apr.2 (ANI): The Pakistan Army's offensive against the Taliban and other extremist groups in the scenic Swat Valley had ended months ago with the security forces claiming to have flushed the militants out, but its continued presence there has raised questions of the role of the civilian government in running the affairs of the country.

The military can be seen rebuilding roads, schools, planting trees, and doing various other developmental work which should have been undertaken by the civilian administration, whose presence in the region is hardly seen.

There are several explanations to the strange state of affairs in Swat.

While some U.S. and Pakistani military officials pointed out that Pakistan's 'anaemic' civilian government is too corrupt and bureaucratic to build on military progress by improving services and quality of life, others believe that the military is too accustomed to control and too enthralled with its popularity to cede any power, The Washington Post reports.

A senior Pakistani military official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity also made it clear that the civilian administration was incapable of rebuilding the region and helping people return to lead their normal life.

"Whenever we give them the job, they're not capable of doing it because of corruption," the official said.

Experts said that the military's enhanced role is sending a wrong signal to the masses and stressed that increasing dependence on the Army was not good for democracy in the country.

"They are carrying guns at the same time they are carrying shovels. It's sending the wrong signals. The civilians are completely dependent on the army," the newspaper quoted Rifaat Hussain, a defense and security studies professor in Islamabad, as saying.

People in Swat also agree that the military is far more capable than the government, and that it should prolong its stay in the Valley.

"They (the Army) completed this in two months. I think if it had been done by the government, it would have taken 10 years," said Mohammed Saeed, a principal in the village of Shamozai while talking about the reconstruction work of his school. (ANI)

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