Pakistan to pull out troops from Swat valley
Islamabad, Jul 11: Pakistan army will start pulling out its troops from the scenic Swat valley from August, local media reports said on Friday July 11.
However, a complete withdrawal will not take place until the government in Northwestern Frontier Province certifies marked change in ground situation from a security perspective, according to media reports. The provincial government had in May, signed a peace deal with Islamists led by Mulla Fazalullah, also known as Mulla radio after months of fighting between security forces and militants.
Fazalullah, who used to run his own FM radio channel to incite people against military, undertook to remain peaceful in Swat, previously known as a major tourist attraction site.
''Under the May 21 peace deal with Mullah Fazlullah's militants in Swat, the NWFP government agreed to the ''gradual withdrawal of security forces but did not provide a timeframe for the complete pullout of the army,'' an official said. ''The army will maintain some level of presence in Swat as long as the provincial government needs it,'' the official, requesting anonymity, said.
He said the military was pushing the civilian government to improve its own policing system so that soldiers could be withdrawn from conflict zones, adding that the army should be used as a last resort.
The military has also offered to train several units of an elite police force in different phases. ''This elite force can be ready for deployment within two months and their skills will help the army's withdrawal,'' the official said.
Referring to the military's 'inaction' against suspected militants setting ablaze girls' schools, police stations and government buildings, and killing people even after the announcement of the peace deal, he said the military could not take any action without approval of the provincial government.