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No breakthrough in talks over Swat peace deal
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | February 20, 2009 19:22 IST
Four days after a peace pact was inked between religious hardliners and the North West Frontier Province government, leading cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad is yet to make Taliban [Images] leaders accept the deal, to enforce Islamic laws in the violence-hit Swat valley.
Mohammad, who has been holding talks with Taliban leaders, on Friday met its commander Maulana Fazlullah, who is his son-in-law, for direct talks as reports said the Taliban was demanding the withdrawal of security forces from Swat, the release of all prisoners and a general amnesty for its men.
Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told reporters that Fazlullah and Mohammad discussed the deal on enforcing Shariah and efforts to restore peace in Swat. Fazlullah agreed with Mohammad's efforts to enforce Islamic laws, he said. Khan said the people of Swat would soon 'hear good news' regarding the peace deal.
He added that Fazlullah would cooperate with Mohammad and the NWFP government to implement the Sharia and restore peace. Mohammad and Fazlullah met in Matta, a Taliban stronghold, where Geo News reporter Musa Khan Khel was killed by unidentified gunmen earlier this week.
Representatives of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, which is led by Sufi Mohammad, signed an agreement with the NWFP government on Monday for implementing Islamic laws in Swat and Malakand districts.
The federal government has said President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] will approve the deal only after peace is restored in the area. Swat has remained relatively peaceful over the past few days though the murder of the journalist has raised doubts about the peace initiative.
The Taliban and Pakistani security forces have engaged in fierce fighting in Swat since October 2007, when a crackdown was launched against Fazlullah's men. Hundreds of people, including political leaders and activists, have been killed in the violence.
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