Pro-Taliban militants ink truce pact with NWFP govt

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Peshawar, May 10 : Pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's Swat region are learnt to have reached out a peace agreement with the coalition government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Under the agreement, the militants won't carry out any attacks in the area, and the government would not carry out any search operations against the militants.

"We negotiated a successful ceasefire agreement with Fazlullah. Under the agreement, the militants will neither attack the security forces nor set girls' schools or state installations on fire. The government will not carry out search operations against the militants," the Daily Times quoted NWFP Environment Minister Wajid Ali Khan and Awami National Party Information Secretary Zahid Khan as saying.

While Senior Provincial Minister Bashir Bilour represented the NWFP government in the talks, Taliban spokesman in Swat Maulana Muslim, and Muhammad Amin and Abdul Ghafoor, represented the Taliban side.

The meeting venue was kept secret because of security reasons.

Over the past few years, these extremists had carried out a bloody campaign for the implementation of the Shariah law in the Swat district. They torched two government girls' schools during past two weeks to make their presence felt.

Zahid Khan said that the agreement was "clinched in the maiden formal contact" with the pro-Taliban rebel cleric at Chakdara's Fishing Hut in Lower Dir district. "We parleyed for seven hours. Bashir Ahmed Bilour represented the provincial government," he said.

According to sources, the provincial government agreed to the cleric's demand for withdrawal of security forces from the area. However, no timeframe was set for the same.

The Environment Minister further said that the next round of talks would take place next week. "Today, we sat together for the first time and worked out some confidence-building measures which include the agreement that both sides will not attack each other," he said.

ANI

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