Pakistani Taliban in Swat refuse to give up arms
The militants had struck a deal to relinquish their weapons in return for Islamic law in the region.
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Militants in the Swat valley of northwestern Pakistan are refusing to abandon their weapons, despite having won concessions from Pakistan's president, including the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law. The announcement deepens worries that the agreement with the militants will not bring peace to the region.
While militants aligned with the Pakistani Taliban struck a peace deal with authorities in Swat in February, the accords were not implemented until this week, when President Asif Ali Zardari signed the agreement. Though the terms of the agreement were not revealed, government officials had said that the militants would have to relinquish their arms. But Reuters reports that Taliban militants said they would not abide by that deal.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the scenic valley, a one-time tourist destination 125 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, said they would be keeping their guns.
"Sharia doesn't permit us to lay down arms," Muslim Khan said by telephone. "If a government, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan, continues anti-Muslim policies, it's out of the question that Taliban lay down their arms."
However, the spokesman for the Swat Taliban faction also said that the guerrillas would abstain from displaying weapons in public, according to the Asian Tribune.
Militants ... put [a] ban on the display of any kind of weapon by anyone including their own activists in the public places including markets.
Talking to the media persons in Mingora (Swat) on Tuesday, spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Muslim Khan, said there will be no display of arms by the Taliban members in Malakand division [which encompasses Swat].
He said they had taken up arms only for implementation of sharia and now when the government had signed the bill for its implementation militants have no desire for use of weapons.
Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the former leader of the Swat-based insurgent group who has since worked as an intermediary between the government and the Taliban, called on the fighters abandon their weapons after the implementation of the accord, reports Bloomberg.
"People will be told to give up weapons and in the region live in peace," Sufi Muhammad, chief of a pro-Taliban group, said at a televised news conference in Swat today, announcing the April 19 rally [for peace].
However, it is unclear how much influence he has over the movement in Swat, of which he has not officially been a member for some years.