THE denial of the Swat Media Centre, run by the Inter Services Public Relations, of extrajudicial killings by security forces in the Malakand Division was met with firm rebuttal by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which claimed to have received complaints of reprisal attacks by troops during the recently concluded military operation in the Valley. The Commission, in response to the ISPR's statement, quoted many instances in which militants were found dead days after being arrested, contrary to the official claim that they had been killed during a shootout with the troops engaged in the conflict. Previously, media reports contradicted the official claim that a militant spokesperson Azim Izzat was killed when his accomplices tried to rescue him from the custody of the security forces, while insisting that there was no evidence of his being transported to a prison. It was distressing to find the dead bodies strewn upside down with warning notes tagged to them: anyone supporting the militants would meet the same fate. The security forces cannot escape the blame for having carried out revenge killings by simply conceding the presence of mass graves in the region that remained under conflict for over a month. This is not enough. Those conducting the operation will have to do a lot of explaining to clear doubts in the public mind, rather than alleging that bodies were of militants buried by other militants. The government must pay heed to the demand for the constitution of a multi-party parliamentary commission so that the issue could be thoroughly investigated and those responsible for carrying out extrajudicial killings be brought to justice. The HRCP has rightly demanded that the government clarify whether it considers it a law and order problem on which human rights are applied, or whether it treats it as an armed conflict that comes under humanitarian law. The democratic dispensation must deal with such issues in a different way than they were tackled in the past.