ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani officials say the Bajaur region has been reclaimed from the Taliban with militants suffering heavy losses and being pushed into Afghanistan.
"The resistance has been broken down. We control the roads," Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, inspector general of the Frontier Corps, told The New York Times. (NYSE:NYT) "They have lost."
Hailing the events in the northern area as a turning point in the government's battle against the Taliban militants, Pakistani officials have begun trying to persuade the 300,000 people displaced by the fighting to return.
However, residents and Western military experts said it was likely militants retreated into the mountains, waiting to re-emerge once the military presence eases, the Times reported.
Heavy bombings and increased numbers of troops, cited by military officials as reasons for success in pushing the Taliban from Bajaur, also alienated the area's population, residents and refugees said. Support of residents is critical to keeping militants out of the area, a tribal leader told the Times.
"If the government doesn't build and attract tribesmen back quickly, and do things to put money in their pockets, there is every likelihood of a reversion to the militants," said Khalid Aziz, a former chief secretary of the North-West Frontier province who works on the Pakistani-U.S. effort for Bajaur.
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