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Pakistan - Swat valley interview

No surrender to Taliban, says NWFP politician

Article published on the 2009-05-09 Latest update 2009-05-09 14:48 TU

Displaced Swat residents demand better living facilities in a protest in Islamabad(Photo: Reuters)

Displaced Swat residents demand better living facilities in a protest in Islamabad
(Photo: Reuters)

The Vice-President of the secular party which controls Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province says that the government should not surrender to Taliban fighters who have used the Swat valley as a base to spread Islamic Sharia law to neighbouring areas. Senator Haji Adil of the Awami National Party (ANP) told RFI that the Islamists had rejected compromise offered by the provincial government, which his party controls.

"We tried our best to negotiate with the ... I will not call them Taliban, I will call them terrorists," Haji Adeel told RFI, referring to the government's peace deal with the Islamists. "We have accepted their religious and constitutional demands. Their demand was Islamic rules of law. We were agreed with that. And even after they didn't lay down their arms."

Comment: Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party in Peshawar

09/05/2009 by Salil Sarkar

Armed fundamentalists were brought to the region by western powers fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Adeel points out? He says that the provincial government has to tackle the violent heritage of that conflict. 

"Either we should surrender to the Taliban or we should fight," he says. "We should not surrender to them."

The secular ANP won control of the North-West Frontier Province from a coalition of mainstream Islamic parties in elections in 2008. It then negotiated a peace deal, which was endorsed at national level, with Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah in an attempt to end months of fighting in the Swat valley.

Taliban efforts to spread sharia law beyond the area covered by the agreement led to the current offensive.

Government helicopter gunships and ground forces killed at least 55 Taliban fighters in fighting Saturday, according to the army, which claimed to have killed 140 on Friday. Taliban mortar fire caused civilian casualties, as well as wounding two soldiers, the military said, but it claims that the rebels are "on the run".

The UN says that up to a million people have fled the fighting, a figure which Haji Adeel confirms.

Missiles from a suspected US drone hit a compound used by armed rebels in South Waziristan near the Afghan border on Saturday, according to officials.

The area is a stronglhold of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud.