Pakistan’s success in Bajaur

While challenges loom large in the fight against terrorism, the Pakistan Army certainly has reason to celebrate. With the unveiling of a vast Taliban and Al-Qaeda hideout dug into mountains near the Afghan border in Damadola, Pakistan, Pakistani tribal militia can finally celebrate in Bajaur’s tribal region.
Pakistan seized the complex of 156 caves developed over five to seven years in its latest offensive against militants in its semi-autonomous tribal belt.
Major General Tariq Khan said the Damadola area had served as a militant headquarters until it was overrun by troops in an offensive launched in January. “There were Egyptians, Uzbeks, Chechens and Afghans killed in the operation,” he said.
“Al-Qaeda was there. They had occupied the ridges. There were 156 caves designed as a defensive complex,” Khan said.
Khan stressed Damadola’s strategic importance as a link to Afghanistan, Pakistan’s northern district of Chitral, the main highway to China and to the northwestern valley of Swat, which has been troubled by a Taliban insurgency.
Hundreds of tribesmen celebrated in front of the television cameras, waving guns in the air and hailing the army. Some vowed to form pro-government militias — known locally as lashkars — to prevent the Taliban’s return.
What remains now is for the international community to help the army assist the local people with food, services and rebuilding in order to keep the Taliban out.

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