A Miscreant cease fire in Pakistan

AP/Houston Chronicle:

Militants who follow a pro-Taliban cleric in troubled northwestern Pakistan agreed to a cease-fire today, a day after security forces backed by helicopter gunships targeted their hide-outs, killing at least 10 suspected insurgents, officials said.

Residents said they had not heard any gunshots early today in Swat, a mountainous valley where the government has battled supporters of cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who has launched a Taliban-style Islamization campaign in the once-peaceful and scenic district. He has also called for a holy war against the government.

"This is a good thing that the militants have agreed to the cease-fire, and we welcome it," Arshad Majid, the district coordination officer in Swat, told The Associated Press by telephone.

However, he would not say how many militants or security forces had been killed in the fighting in Swat since Friday when Fazlullah's supporters began ambushing security forces. The military's public relations department said Sunday in a statement that 10 militants had been killed in the fighting. It didn't confirm reports that about a dozen security personnel had also died.


In Malakand, a rugged area bordering Swat, authorities dropped pamphlets from airplanes on Sunday, urging residents to help "the government in purging (Malakand) of terrorists," the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported. The government made similar appeals in Swat a day earlier.

It looks like the use of overwhelming force can have an effect in the Taliban controlled areas. The question is whether Pakistan has the will to use it. Swat was being controlled by a religious weirdo who fled the area when the troops came in. To be effective Pakistan must be willing to keep enough force in the area to hold it and prevent his return. Otherwise, they will be back into whack a mole mode.


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