Swat peace deal collapses

April 9th, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 9 (IANS) A deal between the Pakistani government and the Taliban to restore peace in the Swat Valley Thursday collapsed with a radical cleric withdrawing from the pact he helped broker, reports said
“Maulana Sufi Mohammad announced his withdrawal from Swat peace deal on Thursday,” Geo TV reported.

The cleric had helped broker the deal between the North West Frontier Province government and the Taliban under which the militants had agreed to lay down their arms in return for the imposition of Sharia laws in the area.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who had given the go-ahead for the deal, had said he would ratify it only if peace returned to the picturesque valley, once a popular tourist destination.

Zardari, however, has been under immense pressure to turn down the deal, particularly after the emergence last week of a video depicting a 17-year-old girl being publicly flogged over an alleged illicit relationship. Though the incident was denied, it sparked universal outrage.

The deal with the Taliban had attracted international condemnation as it was seen to be bowing to the militants.

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