Pakistan frees head of terrorist organisation

April 22nd, 2008 - 12:52 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Peshawar, April 21 (DPA) The Pakistani government Monday released the head of a banned Islamic organisation as part of its peace talks with the militants in restive northwest valley of Swat, officials said. Maulana Sufi Mohammed, chief of the banned Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammedan Law (TNSM), was released from a hospital in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar, where he was moved months ago for medical treatment.

“The newly elected government of the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have decided to release him in order to pursue the peace process and put an end to violence in the Malakand region,” a senior official told DPA.

Pakistan’s new coalition government led by the PPP, the party of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, last month offered peace talks to the Islamic militants operating in the country’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and its nearby NWFP.

The move revised the heavy-handed policies of President Pervez Musharraf in dealing with the problem.

Authorities believe Mohammed could be used to convince his son-in- law, Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric whose followers have been fighting the security forces in the Swat region since late October for the enforcement of Taliban rule in the area, to shun militancy.

Mohammed is a pro-Taliban militant, who took more than 10,000 TNSM fighters to Afghanistan to fight against US and Northern Alliance forces after the US invaded the country to oust the Taliban regime.

On Jan 15, 2002, Mohammed was arrested by security forces in the tribal district of Kurram Agency as he was crossing into Pakistan.

The Taliban also demanded the release of Mohammed together with some of their leaders in exchange for Pakistani envoy Tariq Azizud-Din, who has been held by militants for the past few months.

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