Swat peace deal scrapped, all camps abolished

April 9th, 2009 - 8:55 pm ICT by ANI  

Islamabad, Apr.9 (ANI): The peace deal reached between the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Government and the chief of the outlawed Tehreek e Nifaz e Shariat Mohammedi was scrapped on Thursday. Sufi Mohammad also announced that all peace camps in the region would be abolished.

Mohammed blamed the delaying tactics of the federal government in imposing the Nizam-i-Adal (Islamic courts) in the Swat region for the scrapping of the deal, thereby casting serious doubt about the nearly two-month-old cease-fire in the valley.

According to the Dawn, imposing Islamic law in the Swat was a key plank of an accord that was worked out in February between the provincial government and Sufi Muhammad, a cleric who once led thousands of volunteers to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan but has since renounced violence.

Thanks in part to Muhammad’s mediation, the agreement ended 18 months of terror and bloody clashes that had left hundreds dead and forced up to one-third of the previously prosperous valley’s 1.5 million residents to flee.

But the militants have retained their arms and this week pushed into a neighboring area where they fought deadly gun battles with villagers and police.

President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will only sign an order introducing Islamic law in the region once peace has been restored _ without saying how that would be determined.

Muhammad, who had been camped out in the valley’s main town of Mingora with hundreds of black-turbaned supporters, said they were leaving to protest Zardari’s ‘negative attitude.’

‘From now on, President Zardari will be responsible for any situation in Swat, ‘ the white-bearded cleric told reporters.

‘The provincial government is sincere and our agreement with the provincial government is intact, but we are ending our peace camp.’

Television footage showed dozens of Muhammad’s supporters crammed into a column of cars and driving out of Mingora, some of them clutching black and white flags.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the government of North West Frontier Province, said he believed the federal government was ’sincere’ in supporting the peace effort, but said he couldn’t say when the Islamic law bill would be signed.

Zardari aides said officials were looking into the matter but gave no further comment. (ANI)

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