Pak Government moves to tighten noose around Taliban

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Peshawar, April 24 (ANI: In the wake of reports emanating from Pakistan that the North West Frontier Province government has made up its mind to launch a military operation in case the "intransigent" Taliban does not agree to vacate Buner district, cease patrolling in Swat and stop moving to other districts, the Taliban has started its withdrawal from Buner, which is located 62 miles from Islamabad.

The decision was discussed and later recommended as 'second option' after a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister's House on Thursday with Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti in the chair.

The meeting was briefed about the Taliban build-up and their running over of some villages in Buner district, the armed patrolling of militants in Swat and the threats to the government and contradictory statements from banned Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) head Maulana Sufi Muhammad.

A Taliban spokesman on Friday confirmed that militants who had occupied Buner district had started withdrawing.

The withdrawal reportedly began soon after the PPP-led federal government threatened to take action against the militants.

The threat emerged after the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-Muhammadi (TNSM) and Malakand Commissioner signed an agreement.

Military sources said an operation against the militants in Swat was to start within 48 hours. A troop build-up in the region is ongoing, the Dawn and The News reported.

Earlier on Friday, Mullah Fazlullah ordered the withdrawal of his fighters from Buner.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan confirmed the news of the withdrawal to news agencies.

Over 100 paramilitaries are currently manning police stations in the district. Two platoons comprising 113 men were sent to the rugged region.

Rasheed Khan, a local police officer, was quoted as saying that he was expecting a total of eight platoons in Buner to neutralise the Taliban threat.

The Obama administration has already expressed that it is 'extremely concerned' over the events in Pakistan in wake of the controversial move to allow Sharia law in the Swat Valley.

The NWFP Government has agreed to convene a grand jirga of political parties to discuss the situation and evolve a consensus on the next steps to be taken. (ANI)

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