Taliban says Swat accord ‘dissolved’

May 4th, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 4 (IANS) The controversial peace accord with the Taliban in Swat in Pakistan’s troubled northwest has been “dissolved” due to the ongoing military operations in the area against the militants, who have now threatened to attack targets across the country, a media report Monday said.
“Our peace agreement with the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) government practically stands dissolved,” Muslim Khan, a spokesperson for the Swat chapter of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told The News on the telephone.

“(Security) forces are attacking us and our fighters are also retaliating.”

Significantly, in response to a question, Khan ruled out the involvement of India and Afghanistan in the Swat unrest, saying no outside elements were involved.

Khan also warned that the Taliban would now attack security forces and important government figures across the country, saying they were obeying the directives of US President Barack Obama, who has asked Pakistan to do more in the war against terror.

“If the Awami National Party (ANP, that rules NWFP) supports us, we will not harm them. But if they sided with the government, they too will become our target,” Khan said.

“However, our main target will be security forces and the rulers of Pakistan. We will also act in other cities of Pakistan but will not target the general public,” he added.

Asked about the dissolution of the Swat peace accord, ANP spokesperson Senator Zahid Khan said it had been signed with the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of radical cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad and not with the Swat Taliban.

The NWFP government and the TNSM had Feb 16 inked a deal to impose Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the province that are collectively known as the Malakand division in return for the militants laying down their arms.

Instead, the Taliban moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The military operation in Dir began April 26 and spread to Buner two days later. Over 150 militants have so far been killed in the action.

On Sunday, Sufi Mohammad had rejected as “unilateral” the decision of the NWFP government to establish Islamic appealate courts in the Malakand division saying he had not been consulted.

TNSM spokesperson Ameer Izzat Khan told The News he was not aware of the accord being scrapped but that the situation in the region would return to what it had been before the deal was signed if the military operation against the Taliban continued.

“We do not know as to who is conducting the operation - the federal government or security forces - but we know that it is being launched to please the United States,” he contended.

“If the prevailing situation persists, the government will lose control over the area and reaction to the government actions will also be witnessed in other cities of the country. In that situation, even the TNSM will be unable to control the situation,” Ameer Izzat Khan warned.

Muslim Khan’s remarks come as the chief cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Mosque has said the Taliban’s resurgence in the northwest is to avenge the attack on the mosque two years ago.

Most of the students of the madrassa attached to the Lal Masjid belonged to Swat, Buner and Dir areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and were now extracting their revenge, Dawn Monday quoted Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was released last month after spending almost two years in jail, as saying.

Military commandos had stormed the Lal Masjid July 2007 to end a standoff with Aziz’s armed students. Some 100 people, most of them militants, died in the assault.

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