According to this article in Pakistan Daily Times:
Militants in several parts of the restive Swat district vacated their trenches on hilltops and disappeared on Tuesday, Daily Times has learnt. Rebel cleric Maulana Fazlullah’s loyalists had established trenches in the Dherai, Kooza Bandai, Bara Bandai, Nangolai, Charbagh, Khwazakhela and Pir Kalay areas of Swat. However, they vacated the areas on Tuesday morning and their current whereabouts are unknown, residents said. Locals believe the Taliban have fled the area under intense pressure from the military, which had been using artillery and gunship helicopters to target their positions in several areas of Swat and Shangla districts for the last few days. Meanwhile, Swat Media Centre spokesman Amjad Iqbal told journalists that a local resident had killed Taliban commander Khan Khitab, as people of the area were tired of the Taliban.
Things to keep in mind. This is a single source now I have quoted for two days. I like to mix it up, but they are the ones getting info out.
Also, for all I know, Musharraf could be writing these articles.
I don't bother quoting the numbers in these articles because they are most likely inflated.
However, I am seeing peeps from other sources that it is ON in Swat right now.
Locals tossing in to fight the Taliban would be a huge plus and reminiscent of the Anbar Awakening.
Christian Science Monitor has it as well:
Even as he remains publicly embroiled with the secular opposition, Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf's real war with militants is heating up – and far from public view. The outcome is pivotal to Pakistan's longer struggle with militancy.
This week, Pakistan's Army sent 15,000 ground troops into Swat, a scenic valley in the North West Frontier Province. Although a settled area barely 100 miles from the urbane capital, Islamabad, Swat is the stronghold of a Taliban-like extremist group boasting about 5,000 fighters.
At least 15 militants were reported killed since troops landed on Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse:
"The militants suffered heavy losses and their casualties were numerous," [local government spokesman Amjad] Iqbal said as government forces tried to dislodge the militants from bases in the district of Kabal and the nearby Shangla hills.
He said two rebel commanders loyal to hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah -- who wants to introduce Islamic Sharia law in the region and preaches holy war against the government -- were killed.
Fighting in Swat has been escalating for weeks. But the skirmishes have ended in humiliating defeats for the Army, mostly because 3,000 paramilitaries – rather than actual soldiers – were sent to do the fighting. Many have surrendered without putting up a fight or have been captured and publicly executed.
This week may mark a turning point. It is the first time that bona fide Army boots have been put on the ground. The move was quickly welcomed in editorials.
The Daily Times, an English-language daily in Pakistan, seemed to suggest that it was high time for such action:
Finally the army has begun its ground offensive in Swat after days of sniping at the Al Qaeda militants from its helicopter gunships, killing 35 on the first day.
This is a change from the humiliating reversals which the militants inflicted on the paramilitary personnel earlier on…
The News, another influential English-language daily, called on the government to exhibit a policy of greater resolve:
…[I]t is necessary to show that the state is determined to enforce its writ. This can be done by closing down the illegal radio stations that fuel passions and hatred, refusing to reach deals with militants and, at the same time, drawing ordinary people into the battle against extremists by offering them the benefits that a benevolent, caring state must be able to provide.
Washington is closely watching the developments as well, according to the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. officials are closely monitoring the situation in the northwestern district of Swat, a picturesque former princely state. Islamic militants, employing tactics used in the tribal borderlands, have overrun villages here, beheading security personnel and imposing their own harsh brand of Islamic law.
Western military observers consider the confrontation a pivotal one, possibly presaging a much wider push by Pakistani and foreign militants out of the largely lawless tribal belt along the Afghanistan border and into so-called settled areas, where Pakistan's federal government is supposed to have authority.
Associated Press has it from US Policy end:
This phase of creating a specialised anti-insurgency force has already been operationalised with around $52 million allocated last year and $92 million more in 2007 to the FC stationed in the restive North West Frontier Province and Balochistan.
Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Moreall said last week that the US was of the view that in Pakistan's tribal regions it was more effective to work with a locally recruited force than to work with the army. The latter is not viewed with the same respect in that part of the country as the FC, he added.
But the more dire aspect under consideration by desperate US military planners is raising, training and arming a Mujahideen force or militia from amongst ''friendly'' and ''soft'' Taliban from Pakistan's seven turbulent Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) adjoining Afghanistan, to counter the rampaging jehadis and radical Islamists.
The US has reportedly been encouraged by a similar strategy of recruiting local tribesmen being pursued in Iraq's Anbar province that is believed to be proving efficacious.
The reasoning is that being locally recruited, these militia members understand the enemy and hence are better equipped to neutralise the crippling insurgency.
Military analysts say the controversial plan appeared to be borrowing heavily from the British colonial administration's policy of raising local militias in the FATA from amongst local tribesmen with the fundamental assumption that they were better equipped to deal with their war-mongering brethren.
As I predicted in earlier this year, the US is trying to turn Taliban leadership against al Qaeda core leadership, is splitting the Taliban itself along tribal lines, to create a situation similiar to the Sunni flip in Iraq.
No guarantees here, but I predict success as long as the Maulana Falzur Rahman holds the MMA in check, which he will do since al Qaeda is trying to assassinate him. and as long as Musharraf pushes them out of Pakistani safehavens into the waiting arms of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Internet Anthropologist has more