There is something fishy about the Pakistani military’s reporting of its campaign against the Taliban in Swat, according to the Pakistani press.
Dawn uses the phrase, “With scepticism growing about the progress of the month-old army offensive in the north-western region . . .” and notes, “From the air, there was little evidence of the fierce fighting and air strikes that the military claims have already killed more than 1,000 militants as well as some 60 soldiers.”
Mingora, the largest town in Swat and the expected site of a Taliban-military showedown, just seemed like a ghost town to reporters brought up by the military.
Also suspicious is the report that Taliban in parts of Lower Dir are offering voluntarily to withdraw, in negotiations with local tribal chieftains.
Pakistani government officials had earlier claimed that military action had cleared most important centers in lower Dir of the Taliban.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani civilians have been displaced from Swat by the military’s call for them to leave and allow its troops a clear shot at the Taliban, which it claims to have subsequently killed in the hundreds. Some photos of dead fighters were released.
But clearly some Pakistani journalists are entertaining dark suspicions that this campaign has largely been a shadow play, that the civilians were moved out so that there would be no eye witnesses, and that less has been going on militarily than has been claimed.
Has Swat been a virtual campaign, played out in headlines generated by Inter-Services Intelligence creative writers? Has less been actually going on than meets the eye?
Or is the Pakistani press being way too suspicious here, and creating a new conspiracy theory?
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