Pakistan continues peace efforts with Taliban
The latest in a series of controversial deals with Islamic militants in the Swat Valley has provoked questions about the new government's counterterrorism efforts.
Pakistan's new government finalized another controversial peace deal with Islamic militants in the country's border region this week. It's the latest in a series of efforts to secure promises from militants to stop cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, something that has prompted heightened concerns from US officials.Skip to next paragraph
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According to The New York Times, militants in Swat agreed to a cease-fire on the controversial conditions that the new provincial government introduce sharia, or Islamic law, and that the Pakistani military gradually withdraw the 20,000 troops it has in the area.
The senior minister of the [North West Frontier] province, Basher Ahmad Bilour, said that under the terms of the accord, the branch, called the Taliban in Swat, pledged not to attack the security forces.
But it was not clear from the announcement how the deal would be enforced. Nor was it clear what success the authorities would have in separating out what they called hard-line jihadists from other areas.
"We started efforts for the peace agreement months ago, but we managed to sign it on Monday," said [deputy administrator Syed] Ahmad, who also noted the militants promised not to display weapons in the region.
Adding to the controversy, the Daily Times, a leading English language daily in Pakistan, reports:
[The] Taliban will not accept any government condition to stop cross-border movement [into Afghanistan] to finalise a peace deal.
"First, we will not accept such a ban. But we hope the peace deal will be inked without a clause that puts restrictions on mujahideen to cross the border (into Afghanistan)," Abu Zakwan, Taliban commander in the Kotkai area of South Waziristan, told Daily Times on Saturday."
Washington and Pakistan have enjoyed a close political and financial relationship since 9/11, when Pakistan agreed to assist the United States in targeting and apprehending Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects, the Associated Press reports.
Since 2001, most of the U.S. aid spent in Pakistan – $5.6 billion – has gone toward reimbursing Pakistan's military for combat operations. About $1.5 billion has paid for military training and equipment, while the rest of the money is devoted to economic aid and other priorities, such as legal reform and local police training."