The Pakistani military claims to have completely taken over the city of Mingora, the largest in Swat, and says that the campaign in Malakand Division will be completed within three days.
This upload from CCTV gives some of the Pakistani military’s press conference:
There is an urgent need for the fighting to end soon, so that people can return to their homes and aid can reach the dispossessed. The monsoon, or rainy season, is coming, and with impromptu rivulets springing up, there will be danger of cholera and other water-borne diseases among the refugees living in tent cities with no proper sewage.
There is speculation that the Pakistani military may turn next to Taliban strongholds in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Taliban are not sitting on their hands waiting. They attacked a government military outpost in South Waziristan on Saturday. The military claims to have driven them off and to have killed 40 of them in the process.
Meanwhile, trouble is brewing to the west. Iran summoned Pakistan’s ambassador over evidence that a Sunni rebel group, Jundullah, was responsible for bombing a Shiite mosque in Zahidan. Zahidan is largely Baluch in ethnicity, not Persian, and most Baluch are Sunnis. They often chafe under Shiite rule. The small province of Sistan and Baluchistan has a population of 2.2 million (Iran’s population is over 70 million), and is one of the poorest and least developed in the country. Small separatist groups, which seek safe haven on the Pakistan side of the border, have operated for some time.
Iranian fears of US meddling in its ethnic relations are not completely unfounded. Representative Jane Harman (D-Cal) has called for the break-up of Iran, apparently influenced by the thinking of Israeli hawks on this issue. Harman has been accused of trying to get the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee by intervening to stop the prosecution of two men accused of espionage on behalf of Israel, for which she was to be rewarded by wealthy backers of the Israel lobbies.
Pakistan itself has a problem with its Baluch minority, which feels it does not get its fair share of the country’s resources. The government is pledging more aid.
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