There is no doubt that the situation in Swat is very grim. The locals have to bear brunt of the military conflict going on in the region between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban militants involved in various heinous crimes. The situation has worsened to the present extent due to complete ignorance of the previous regime. Islamabad, under the Musharraf administration, allowed the extremists forces to flourish in the valley without any interference and check. Mullah Fazal Ullah was allowed to run his FM radio station without PEMRA approval and he kept preaching his toxic ideology for years with out a hindrance. Criminals were allowed to assemble, establish strongholds and flourish in the valley right under the nose, and eyes, of the security agencies. Now that a democratic government is in office, the mess created by ignorance of long cannot be cleaned in a short period of six or eight months. The good news is that the regime has fully realized the gravity of the situation and is challenging the militants in a befitting manner. But the process seems to be slow and has been slowed down on purpose probably to minimize the collateral damage. It is the need of the hour that the people of Swat should come out to support their security forces operating against the criminal Taliban elements. -TAJ MUHAMMAD, Lahore, via e-mail, December 23.