Sufi Mohammad’s Taliban links being probedJuly 28th, 2009 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, July 28 (IANS) Arrested radical cleric Sufi Muhammad, who had brokered a controversial peace deal between the Taliban and the government in Pakistan’s restive northwest, is being probed for the extent of his links with the militants, the provincial chief minister said Tuesday.
Interrogators are probing into the depth of the cleric’s contacts with the militants and his role in terror acts, North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Amir Khan Hoti told Voice of America.
Once formal charges are filed against Sufi Mohammad, there would be no need for any witness against him as he has publicly issued statements against the constitution, the judiciary and other institutions of the country, Hoti added.
The cleric, who had brokered the Feb 16 peace deal between the NWFP government and the Taliban, was arrested from provincial capital Peshawar for speaking against the government and encouraging violence and terrorism, an official said.
His sons Ziaullah and Rizwanullah were also held.
“Sufi Muhammad criticised the country’s judicial system, supported terrorism and his policy strengthened the Taliban after the peace deal in Swat,” NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain was quoted as saying of the founder of banned militant group Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM).
“We will not allow anyone to spread terrorism in Swat again and the government will frame terrorism charges against the TNSM chief,” Hussain added.
Under the peace deal, the Taliban were to lay down their arms in return for Sharia laws being imposed in Swat and six other districts of the NWFP that are collectively known as the Malakand division.
Instead, the Taliban moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.
This prompted the Pakistani security forces to launch on April 26 full blown operations against the Taliban, beginning from Sufi Mohammad’s home district of Lower Dir and later spreading to Upper Dir, Buner and Swat.
Some three million civilians were displaced due to the fighting, which is now winding down. More than 1,500 militants have been killed in the military operations.
Sufi Mohammad is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, who is also known as Mullah Radio for his vitriolic anti-government and pro-Taliban broadcasts on FM radio.
There had been reports that Fazlullah had been wounded but these were negated when he returned to the airwaves earlier this month.
Tags: amir khan, chief minister, formal charges, frontier province, hoti, hussain, information minister, interrogators, malakand division, militant group, north west frontier, peace deal, peshawar, province chief, provincial capital, radical cleric, restive northwest, sharia laws, terrorism charges, voice of america