Swat peace accord hinges on Zardari

April 11th, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 11 (IANS) A peace accord with the Taliban in Swat in Pakistan’s restive northwest that was on the verge of collapse seems to be intact for the moment but much hinges on President Asif ali Zaradri, who is under intense international pressure to reject the pact.
Earlier this week, it appeared that the Feb 16 pact between the Taliban linked radical cleric Sufi Muhammad’s Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government on imposing Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the province’s Malakand division would fall through as Zardari had refused to ratify it.

On Friday, however, the TNSM said the peace deal was intact but this was predicated on Zardari’s nod, even as Sufi Muhammad refused to hold talks with a NWFP delegation that had rushed to meet him after he closed his peace camp in Swat Wednesday, raising fears that the pact was in danger.

“We met him (Sufi) during the Friday prayers but he did not participate in the talks,” NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain told The News.

“The swift move by the NWFP government was aimed at salvaging the shaky peace accord,” the newspaper noted.

In an editorial, however, The News wondered about the rationale behind the peace accord.

“These are men who have no scruples about breaking deals, just as they have no qualms about killing people or torturing helpless women. The only way to vanquish them is through force. This is the reality of our times. Our government and armed forces must work together for this end,” it maintained.

Meanwhile, fresh details have emerged about the 14-point accord. The News enumerated these as:

* Sharia law will be imposed in Swat, including the entire Malakand division;

* The Army will gradually withdraw its forces from the region;

* The government and the Taliban will exchange prisoners;

* The Taliban will recognise the writ of the government and will cooperate with the local police;

* The Taliban will halt attacks on barber and music shops;

* The Taliban will not display weapons in public;

* The Taliban will turn in heavy weapons like rocket launchers and mortars to the government;

* The Taliban will not operate any training camps;

* The Taliban will denounce suicide attacks;

* Raising of private militias will be banned;

* The Taliban will cooperate with the government to vaccinate children against diseases like polio;

* The madrassa of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah would be turned into an Islamic University;

* Only licensed FM radio stations would be allowed to operate in the region;

* The Taliban will allow women to work without any fear.

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