NEW YORK - Swats wealthy landowners, the economic pillar of the scenic valley, are still hesitant to return home even when hundreds of thousands of the displaced people are heading back, a leading American newspaper reported on Tuesday. In a dispatch from Islamabad, The New York Times said the reluctance of landowners to return to Swat is a blow to the Pak militarys campaign to restore stability to the region, and it presents a continuing opportunity for the Taliban to reshape the valley to their advantage. The wealthy, who own resorts and hotel and are people with huge land and orchard holdings, are staying away as they are still not confident that the army and authorities would provide them adequate security. Though the army is proclaiming that Swat is free of the Taliban, the local wealthy say the militants have mingled with ordinary residents after stashing away their weaponry. About four dozen landlords were singled out over the past two years by the militants in a strategy intended to foment a class struggle, the dispatch said. In some areas, the Taliban rewarded the landless peasants with profits of the crops of the landlords. Some resentful peasants even signed up as the Talibans shock troops. The NYT said that reports emerging from Swat show that the Taliban still have the strength to terrorise major areas and counter-insurgency experts feel that Pakistani army pre-maturely called the people back. The paper said it was a sign of the lack of confidence that Pakistani military declined a request by the Obama administrations special envoy Richard Holbrooke to visit Mingora last week. 'There is no apparatus to replace the army, the NYT quoted an American official as saying. 'The army will be the backstop. The NWFP officials say that if the wealthy dont return their land, houses and businesses would be usurped by the peasants, who are Taliban sympathisers. In such a case, there can be no possibility of Swat, Buner and Dir returning back to their old glory. The wealthy say that the top leaders of the Taliban are still in Swat or perhaps in neighbouring Dir and 'as long as they are free, there can be no return to normalcy. If such a situation continues, the landlords absence will have lasting ramifications not only for Swat, but also for Pakistans most populated province Punjab, where the landholdings are vast, and the militants are gaining power, the Times added.