The fighting is inflicting a mounting human toll. The army estimates that 800,000 people have been left homeless by the latest fighting, bringing the total number of displaced people in North West Frontier province to more than 1.3 million. About four-fifths of those are thought to be sheltering with friends or relatives, particularly in Mardan and Swabi districts, while about 130,000 are living in tents.
While conditions in the hastily-erected camps are rough and hot, authorities have managed to ensure adequate food and water. But disgruntlement among the displaced is rising, and, combined with anger over civilian deaths caused by army shelling, analysts say the government is in danger of squandering a wave of public sympathy for the operation.