The military operation in Swat would end in a few days. The army has secured almost the entire valley besides Buner and most of the Lower Dir, while in Upper Dir the local population has taken up arms against the Taliban on its own. The army has succeeded in killing most of the second and third tier militant leadership. The command and control system of the Swat TTP has been destroyed. The illegal radio channels that churned out poisonous propaganda and spread fear among the population have been put out of function. The control of Swat cities and towns has been wrested from the militants and the writ of the state established. After the urban facilities have been restored and the civil administration is back in place, the local population would start returning to whatever is left of their homes. The prophets of doom who made an entirely out-of-place comparison between Swat and 1971 East Pakistan had conveniently forgotten that in East Pakistan the army had initiated a bloody operation to block the way of a popularly elected party from forming government while in Swat it had gone in support of an elected administration and against a band of terrorists who violently opposed democracy and aimed at imposing a system of their own on gunpoint. The operation had shortcomings, some of them quite serious. While the ISPR spokesman gave daily briefings to the media, the later was debarred from covering the army action directly. This made it impossible to gauge the real extent of the collateral damage inflicted on the civilian population. If an alien army in Iraq could have embedded journalists, what had stopped Pakistan Army from allowing the media to cover the operation Rah-e-Rast? A major disappointment was the failure to eliminate the principle figures who planned the insurgency and provided leadership to the militants. It is intriguing that the entire top leadership of Swat TTP continues to live to fight another day. Besides Swat Taliban chief Fazlullah and spokesman Muslim Khan, there is a long list of dreaded commanders that evaporated into thin air like Shah Dauran, Mehmood Khan, Akbar Hussain, Sher Muhammad Qasab, Sirajud Din, Bakht Farzand, Mian Gul Ghafoor, Nisar Ahmed, Lal Din, Anwarullah alias Bashir Ahmed, Sultan Hussain, Rashid Ahmad and Ibn-e-Amin. Whether this was on account of faults in the planning of the operation, bad intelligence or possible leaks by sympathetic elements in the establishment remains to be probed. As long as these symbols of terror enjoy freedom, they would continue to provide encouragement and guidance to the militants who are presently lying low waiting for a more opportune time to strike back. What is more, it would be difficult to inculcate a sense of security among the local population with the Taliban leadership alive and kicking. It might take a couple of years before peace is fully restored in the valley. A lot of effort would be required on the part of the government, both provincial and federal, to strike at the roots established by the terrorists during the five years of MMA rule. They still have sympathisers and sleeper cells in the valley. While a cantonment is being set-up in Swat, the operatives of TTP and its affiliates are likely to use any opportunity that comes their way to indulge in acts of terrorism like a bridge or a school blown up here and there or an IED planted on the roadside to target security personnel. Unless ground level intelligence is improved, it would be difficult to put a stop to incidents of the sort, aimed at weakening the people's confidence in the government and its law enforcing bodies. What is needed most of all are wide ranging reforms that include a more efficient and less costly judicial system, a responsive administration and rule of law. The army is supposed to withdraw the bulk of its personnel from Malakand Division now for deployment in Waziristan. There is a perception that the ongoing military operation in Bannu-FR and in Mehsud areas of South Waziristan is aimed at plugging the escape routes of the militants about to be engaged. It would be unfortunate if Baitullah and his team who claim responsibility for suicide attacks all over the country were to escape like their comrades in Swat. Among other things this would set many people guessing what really lies behind these 'miraculous escapes'.