Pak-Taliban accord in Swat Valley in limbo

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Islamabad, Feb.19 (ANI): The controversial peace agreement designed to end Taliban violence in the Swat Valley hung in limbo on Wednesday amid criticism in Pakistan and rising concern in Washington.

According to the Washington Post, neither the Pakistani government nor the Taliban were willing to formalize the accord that was announced on Monday.

The proposed pact marks an unprecedented and risky attempt to disarm about 2,000 Taliban fighters, who have invaded and terrorized 1.5 million people in northwestern Pakistan, by offering to install a strict system of Islamic law in the surrounding district.

Supporters see the offer as an urgently needed bid for peace and a potential model for other areas ravaged by Pakistan's growing Islamist militancy, which now controls areas 80 miles from Islamabad.

Critics say it would make too many concessions to ruthless religious forces and provide them with a launching pad to drive deeper into the settled areas of Pakistan from their safe haven in the rough tribal districts along the border with Afghanistan.

In Washington, where the Obama administration has been conspicuously silent about the agreement, officials said privately that they considered it a major setback for U.S. goals in the region.

Several officials said the proposed pact was evidence that the Pakistani government has no coherent plan for combating militancy.

Monday's proposed peace accord took the Obama administration by surprise, U.S. officials said. They received no advance notice of the deal and remained uncertain of what was happening on the ground.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic and military sensitivities, said they hoped for clarification by next week. (ANI)

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