War against Taleban spreads into Pakistan

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THE centre of Mingora as well as large parts of the provincial capital of Swat have been destroyed and are rubble after five weeks of fighting carried out by the Pakistani army on the orders of the US.

Local people say that this is no ‘great victory’ for the Pakistan army and the Anglo-American ruling classes. Two million people have been turned into refugees, only 20 Taleban have been killed, but at least 3,000 local people have been slaughtered in the shelling and the bombing carried out by the Pakistani army.

The surviving locals are convinced that the Taleban will be back and that the struggle will be a protracted one.

The International Red Cross has said it is ‘gravely concerned’ by the humanitarian situation in Swat.

Water and electricity are not available, there is no fuel for generators, no medical facilities and just a little food, it said.

Fawad Hussein, of the United Nations office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs, confirmed that there is no electricity supply, and the wells are not working. People are being forced to use alternative water sources, causing water-borne diseases of all kinds.

Army spokesman Major General Abbas has said that the remaining militants are being hunted down, but he could not confirm when the army’s operation in the area will be complete.

‘It’s difficult to give a timeline because this is an elusive enemy that has strongholds in the countryside,’ he said.

The US is giving full backing to the Pakistani operations, which are linked to its own offensive against the Taleban in Afghanistan.

In fact, the struggle is spreading wider and developing further.

A bomb blast at a busy bus terminal in north-west Pakistan has killed at least two people and injured eight others, officials say. The blast took place in Kohat, an important garrison town in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Pakistani troops are engaged in a military offensive against the Taleban in nearby Swat Valley and other areas.

Last Thursday there were Taleban attacks in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP. A day earlier, a massive attack in Lahore, which targeted buildings belonging to the police and intelligence agency, the ISI, killed at least 24 people.

More than 200 people were injured in the explosion.

Taleban militants have warned of more such attacks in the coming days across Pakistan in response to the army’s operation in the Swat Valley, near the Afghan border.

Meanwhile more US and British troops are arriving in Afghanistan to carry through the surge there. This involves hot pursuit across the Afghan border into Pakistan as well as cross-border air raids.

Last Monday, Pakistani troops pressed their offensive against the Taleban in the northwest Swat district, encircling Charbagh town.

Last Saturday planes dropped leaflets warning people to evacuate ahead of possible operations, and a curfew was relaxed on Sunday to enable civilians to leave the area, which has a population of 20,000-25,000.

Charbagh lies 20 kilometres north of Mingora and has been described as one of the most important Taleban strongholds after Peochar.

Meanwhile unmanned US drones have eliminated about half of 20 ‘high-value’ Al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan.

These Predator attacks have killed many civilians.

The Pakistani army is not defeating the Taleban, Rather, its attacks on the cities are increasing support for the Taleban.

It is only a matter of time before US and UK forces take action on the ground, inside Pakistan, in support of the Pakistani army. This will expand the conflict into a new Vietnam war. The British trade unions must mount a campaign of industrial and political action to stop this imperialist war and recall all British troops to the UK.