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Pakistan - Swat valley

Taliban withdraw from Buner, military prepares operation in Swat

Article published on the 2009-04-24 Latest update 2009-04-24 14:49 TU

Taliban walk on a street in the Buner district(Photo: Reuters)

Taliban walk on a street in the Buner district
(Photo: Reuters)

The Pakistani Talibian are withdrawing from Buner district, which they entered three days ago to spread their enforcement of Islamic sharia law. A Pakistani newspaper says that the military are preparing an operation against the Islamists in Swat velley, where they have already imposed their will in an agreement with the government.

As a Taliban spokesperson confirmed that their members are pulling out of Buner district, which they took over three days ago, Dawn newspaper cites military sources saying that an operation against them in their Swat valley base willl start within 48 hours.

Militant cleric Mullah Fazlullah has ordered the withdrawal of his fighters from Buner, Taliban spokesperson Muslim Khan told Reuters. Earlier North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the Islamists were pulling out of the area. 

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday insisted that the decision to send only paramilitary troops to the area is tactical.

"The operational pause, meant to give the reconciliatory forces a chance, must not be taken for a concession to the militants," a military statement quoted Kayani as saying at a meeting in the army's General Headquarters.

And Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the government might review the policy, if the conditions of the deal are not respected.

"We can review the policy and revisit the agreement. We are not bound and are not puppets," Gilani told parliament.

NWFP Information Minister Hussain said: "The government is sincere on implementation of the justice system and expects others to be equally sincere. There is no reason to pick up guns after implementation of the new system."

An all-parties conference, including Hussain's Awami National Party and mainstream Islamic parties, is meeting on the NWFP capital, Peshawar, on Friday, to discuss the events in Buner and Swat.

"The government thought that the Taliban would respect the peace deal but the Taliban are not going to respect any peace deal becausethey ahve tehir political objectives," says IA Rehman of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission.

"Now Buner is not under Taliban and the people of Buner have been fighting the Taliban and there have been clashes with the Taliban," he told RFI. "So the Taliban have this technique of melting away into the population and bringin out their guns when they are needed."

Comment: IA Rehman, Pakistan Human Rights Committee

24/04/2009 by Salil Sarkar

"They get away with murder in the name of God," says Rehman.