World News Brief, Wednesday July 15

Swat refugees head home (+ campaign analysis); more Uighur violence in China; Burmese leaders to release political prisoners; Taylor takes stand at war crimes trial; and more

Top of the Agenda: Swat Residents Return

Thousands of those displaced by fighting between government forces and the Taliban began arriving home in the Swat Valley on Monday as part of a government plan to help them return (LAT). Government buses and trucks carried people from three internally displaced camps back to the valley. Still, many Swat residents were hesitant to return. The New York Times reports some families sent one or two people as “scouts” first, to make sure it was safe before coming home. Authorities say the area is completely secured.

The Christian Science Monitor says the return process will be “closely watched” by the United States and other foreign governments observing Pakistan’s competence in dealing with the Taliban. The Pakistan government says it plans to have all two million displaced returned to the Swat Valley by the end of August (Bloomberg).

Meanwhile, at least nine people, including seven children, were killed on Monday when explosions destroyed a school (al-Jazeera) and several homes in Pakistan’s Punjab province.


Reuters has a Q&A on the future of the displaced Swat population.


A report from the International Crisis Group notes that the level of displacement in Pakistan was by no means inevitable, but is rather the result of years of failed military policy that has enabled militancy to spread. It says "reconstruction efforts must focus on addressing the root causes of militancy in the region."

The Wall Street Journal says Pakistan’s management of the displaced people's return “will go a long way to determining whether it can solidify the army's gains in the strategic valley as it moves to retake more-formidable Taliban strongholds in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.”

On BBC Radio 4, author Owen Bennett-Jones looks at the state of Pakistan’s battle against the Taliban, interviewing officials and experts in Pakistan.


PACIFIC RIM: Two Uighurs Killed

Chinese police killed two ethnic Uighurs in Urumqi on Monday (Bloomberg). Police said they were trying to stop the men from attacking another Uighur. The city appeared to have been calming down after last week’s ethnic riots killed 180 people.

In a CFR podcast, Dru C. Gladney, an expert on China's ethnic minorities, says the Urumqi riots began as protests for social justice, and really had "nothing to do with Islam, or separatism, or independence."

Myanmar: Myanmar’s government announced it will release some political prisoners (AFP) to allow them to participate in next year’s national elections, but it did not indicate how many of the estimated 2,100 political prisoners would be freed.



Charles Taylor testifies.

New EU term begins.

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on