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Reports claim militants returning to Swat

The return of militants in Swat is raising concern as the area was previously a Taliban stronghold where TV was banned, public hangings were not uncommon, and girls were barred from going to school.

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Reports are emerging that militants are making a comeback in Swat. This is an alarming development as Swat was once the poster image for the Pakistani Taliban’s reign of terror from 2007 to 2010.

According to multiple reports on social media, militants are apparently back in Swat, that too with arms. Images of militants carrying Kalashnikovs are making the rounds on social media. It is unclear whether they belong to the banned terror group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because the TTP Swat chapter was expelled. However, it is believed that the militants are indeed from TTP.

As per reports from sources, over 400 militants have returned to Swat. The return of militants in Swat is raising concern as the area was previously a Taliban stronghold where TV was banned, public hangings were not uncommon, and girls were barred from going to school. The fear is that history will repeat itself with the TTP resurfacing. Questions are also being raised on how the militants were allowed to come back.

Moreover, the militants also arrested a high-ranking police officer and six others, including three policemen, and held them hostage for 12 hours. According to the details, the militants had taken the personnel in custody for ‘violating’ the truce that the TTP had reached with the government.

Read more: Talks with TTP to be held within ambit of Constitution: Rana Sanaullah

However, after the intervention of local tribal elders as well as the district administration and negotiations, the militants released the officers.

Talks with TTP

Pertinent to mention that the Pakistani government recently held peace talks with TTP. General Faiz Hameed, former Peshawar Corps Commander, and incumbent Bahawalpur Corps Commander led the Pakistani team that held a series of meetings with TTP chief Noor Wali Masood in Afghanistan. Moreover, a delegation of the Pakistani Ulema also went to Kabul in Afghanistan to hold peace talks with TTP.

TTP is responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on Pakistan, including the Army Public School massacre in 2014. It regularly carries out attacks on Pakistan’s armed forces, resulting in retaliatory attacks. The two sides have also held peace talks on multiple occasions, resulting in temporary ceasefires which are violated by either side.

Read more: Pakistani Ulema fail to convince TTP against violence

This time around, TTP demands the reversal of the FATA merger which Pakistan has rejected. Apart from this, Pakistan has honored other commitments like releasing some TTP prisoners and quietly giving presidential pardons to a couple of their senior commanders.

Earlier, Senior TTP leader Omar Khalid Khorasani and two others members of the banned outfit were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan. TTP officials urged the Taliban government in Afghanistan to investigate the incident and unearth “spies” who could be responsible for the death of senior TTP leaders.

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