Pakistani Taliban to review ceasefire deal (Lead)

February 22nd, 2009 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 22 (IANS) Disputing the Pakistani government’s claims that it has brokered a “permanent ceasefire” in the Taliban-infested Swat Valley, the militia has said they would review their 10-day truce after its expiry.
The government announced Saturday that it has reached a “permanent ceasefire” with the Taliban in Swat as part of an agreement brokered by the head of the defunct Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi, Maulana Sufi Mohammad.

The government under an agreement with Sufi Mohammad allowed Islamic system of justice in Malakand division, of which Swat is a part, soon after peace was restored in the valley.

The Taliban last weekend announced a unilateral ceasefire, which will expire Wednesday, to welcome talks between Mohammad, and the authorities for enforcement of Sharia laws in the region.

However, the Tehrik-i-Taliban commander in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah Saturday said a Taliban shoora (decision making council) would review the unilateral 10-day ceasefire after its expiry next week, Dawn newspaper reported Sunday.

“We have heard that the government has announced a permanent ceasefire, but we have already announced a 10-day ceasefire and we will consider an extension when it ends,” Fazlullah told an illegal FM radio network of the region.

He said the ceasefire depended on the sincerity of the government in implementing the Nizam-i-Adl regulation.

“This is our constitutional right. We struggled and gave sacrifices to achieve our constitutional right,” the radical cleric, also known as Mullah FM, said.

Swat, known as “the Switzerland of Pakistan”, has seen widespread violence since 2007, and has been in the grip of fighting between the Taliban militants and government troops.

During their rebellion, the insurgents also destroyed hundreds of schools after banning girls’ education. Later, they allowed the girls to get education up to fourth grade.

On Saturday, a government official said schools for boys in the region would reopen from next week, while negotiations were continuing with the Taliban to also reopen the institutions for girls.

Pakistan’s efforts to trade partial enforcement of Sharia law for peace have drawn a mixed response.

Some Western powers fear that the apparent submission and the peace deal would embolden the militants. But Pakistan said it did not surrender to the Taliban, rather the move was made in the wake of popular public demand.

Thousands of people last week staged demonstrations in Swat, demanding enforcement of Sharia law and withdrawal of government forces from the region.

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