By Zia Ur Rehman

SWAT – The Taliban can’t return to Swat because the military has shattered their command and control abilities, the region’s highest police official said.

The return of the Taliban is not possible at all as they are completely incapacitated,” Qazi Jamil Ur Rehman, deputy inspector general (DIG) of police, Malakand range, told Central Asia Online in an exclusive interview this month.

”]Taliban militants led by Mullah Fazlullah seized Rasht in 2009. Bloodshed and atrocities followed, causing the army to launch Operation Rah-e-Rast against the militants in April 2009.

The government has defeated the militancy and established peace in the Swat Valley through unprecedented sacrifices, Qazi said.

The army and the police shattered the network of the Swat chapter of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and now no one is allowed to break the law in the valley and go unpunished, he said.

Police have arrested hundreds of militants in Malakand Division, especially Swat, and recovered ammunitions and weapons from them, Qazi said.

Police made sacrifices, too

He called the police sacrifices in the Swat Valley unmatched.

“A hundred thirty-four police personnel were martyred and around 250 severely wounded in the war against terror in Swat,” he said.

”]Only five died and eight were injured in 2010, reflecting the insurgents’ waning strength. In 2009, 12 policemen were killed.

Another sign of the improving security situation: In 2010, there were only four suicide blasts in the valley, killing 34 people, compared to seven in 2009 that killed 50. The reduction shows an improvement in peace and security in the region, Qazi said.

The government is helping the families of dead police by providing full salary until the martyred officer’s 60th birthday, health care and education for the children, Qazi said. Bereaved families also receive residential plots and other benefits.

“I am proud of my policemen who stand alert at vulnerable check posts in Malakand Division in order to stop the militants from carrying out cowardly terrorist acts,” Qazi said.

Check posts, backing of citizens help security efforts

To stop the infiltration of Taliban from Afghanistan, police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) forces established check posts in areas bordering the Chitral and Dir districts, he said.

Many police personnel who quit during the insurgency because the Taliban threatened to kill them and their families have rejoined the force. But any former police personnel who became involved in the militancy “will not be reinstated,” he added.

“Pakistani army commandos are training police personnel, and up until now 450 personnel have learned heavy weapon training,” he said. This training is designed to establish a fully trained police force to combat the militancy. Swat police have been armed with the latest weapons also, he added.

Qazi praised the support of the local population. “We are holding regular interactions with the locals and elders of Swat,” he said, adding that such co-operation was vital to the operation’s success.

“We are also conducting the operation against the social-ill elements involved in drug peddling and kidnapping for ransom, and all the District Police Officers are directed to launch special campaigns in this regard,” Qazi said.