Pakistan’s Swat Valley has become the site of yet another humanitarian crisis as nearly half a million inhabitants flee in efforts to escape the battle between the Taliban and government troops, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Pakistani government estimates that nearly 200,000 innocent civilians have made it out of the northwestern region, with another 300,000 attempting to escape alive. This latest evacuation effort brings the total number of people displaced by the on going violence to near a million, Al Jazeera reports.
A military spokesman claims the government military killed 143 opposition fighters on Thursday. Reinforcement troops were sent to Swat Valley Friday, just one day after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani ordered the army to remove the Taliban as they battle to control the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP).
“The armed forces have been called in to eliminate the militants and terrorists,” he said. He also accused the Taliban of violating the peace deal and threatening the nation’s independence.
The outcome of the battle in Swat Valley could very well determine the future of Pakistan’s military. If the Taliban overcome government forces, they could easily advance on Islamabad and put the entire nation at risk.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, after a meeting with U.S. senators, said the military operation would continue “”¦until life in Swat comes back to normalcy.” These people must have lost hope for normal life now. Normal is long gone.
A democratic nation whose capital is infiltrated by a terrorist insurgency would no doubt pose a serious threat to the whole world, especially when that nation is a known nuclear power. That’s why world leaders, like Obama, are really, really trying to end this as soon as possible. It’d be an international disaster if they advanced further into the country.
The equivalent of like 1000 different swine flues.