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Pakistanis return home after fighting ends in Dir Valley

  • Story Highlights
  • The beautiful Dir Valley has been the scene of ferocious fighting against the Taliban
  • Town of Maidan had been at center of fighting between military forces and militants
  • Pakistani military show off pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad's ransacked house
By Scott Clotworthy
CNN
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DIR VALLEY, Pakistan (CNN) -- The rugged beauty of the expansive Dir Valley can mask the detail of what is happening on the ground.

Pakistani soldiers look on from a mountain during a patrol in the troubled area of Maidan.

Pakistani soldiers look on from a mountain during a patrol in the troubled area of Maidan.

In June, the Pakistani military organized a media tour to areas of the Lower Dir in North West Frontier Province that were under their control.

The town of Maidan had been at the center of fierce fighting between Pakistan's military forces and militants.

Tension was visible on the faces of those escorting us. The IED (improvised explosive device) craters in the road and the bullet holes in our unarmed pickup trucks explained why. The direct fighting had stopped some days before, after opposition forces were reported killed or they disappeared into the surrounding hills and among the population.

Under the watchful eye of government forces, anxious local residents were starting to return. A Pakistani army spokesperson now tells us that all of those who fled the town due to the fighting have returned home.

They have a lot of rebuilding to do. Most of the structures we saw had some kind of damage to them from bullets or direct hits from artillery fire.

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One person who will likely not be returning anytime soon is the pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad, who brokered a short-lived deal between the Taliban and the government that allowed the Taliban to enforce Sharia law in the Swat Valley. But the deal collapsed and the government set off this offensive.

Sufi Muhammad was arrested in Peshawar in late July, accused of encouraging violence. His ransacked house was the last stop on our tour.

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