Taliban declare 10-day ceasefire in Pakistan (Lead)

February 16th, 2009 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 15 (IANS) Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan’s restive Swat Valley Sunday announced a 10-day ceasefire to facilitate a deal between the regional government and a militant group to enforce Islamic law in the district, the Geo TV reported.

“In view of the ongoing efforts for enforcement of Shariah (Islamic rule) in Malakand division, we announce a unilateral ceasefire for 10 days,” Haji Muslim Khan, spokesman for the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, told the Geo TV.

“But we reserve the right to retaliate if we are fired upon,” he added.

The ceasefire came after local officials in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) signed a deal with Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of pro-Taliban outfit Tahrik-e-Nijaf Shariat Muhammadi, to enforce the Islamic rule in the Malakand division, which comprises Swat and its adjoining areas.

The ceasefire calls for a halt in fighting between Pakistani security forces and Taliban militants in the insurgency-hit Swat Valley, once Pakistan’s most popular holiday destinations in the NWFP.

According to Al Jazeera, Muhammad said a five-member delegation of his group would meet NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti in Peshawar Monday to continue peace negotiations.

However, there was no response regarding the developments from the Pakistani Army yet.

A delegation of Muhammad’s group will also visit the Swat Valley to convince the militants who are engaged in fierce battles to stop fighting and give an opportunity to the dialogue process.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain confirmed the deal and said the Islamic law would be introduced in Malakand division to ensure setting-up of courts for speedy trial, Xinhua reported.

The NWFP chief minister will chair a meeting of parties, ministers, scholars and religious leaders to formally announce the agreement on the Islamic judicial system.

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