Pakistan, fighters declare ceasefire in Swat Valley

Pakistani authorities and pro-Taleban fighters declared a ceasefire on Friday in the volatile Swat Valley, officials said.

Pakistan, fighters declare ceasefire in Swat Valley
The ceasefire followed talks between representatives of the North-West Frontier Province government and Maulana Fazlullah whose armed followers grabbed control of much of the valley last year.

Pakistan's civilian administration, elected in February, is seeking dialogue with Taleban sympathisers, a break from the more aggressive policy of US-backed President Pervez Musharraf.

"After hours of talks, we have reached a ceasefire in entire Swat valley," said Wajid Ali Khan, a provincial minister after the talks held in the northwestern town of Chakdara.

He said that more negotiations would follow to bring "peace and stability" in the province. Muslim Abdur Rasheed, an aide to Fazlullah, confirmed the ceasefire was to take effect yesterday. He described Friday's first round of talks as a "confidence-building initiative".

He said the two sides have yet to discuss the fighters' demands, which include the imposition of Islamic law in the valley, the withdrawal of the army, release of detainees and compensation for damage suffered by local people in the military operation.

Neither Rasheed nor Khan would say when the next round of talks would be held.

The ceasefire is the latest sign that Pakistan's new national government, led by the party of assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto, wants to use dialogue and development to curb conflicts across the border region.


Last Mod: 11 Mayıs 2008, 14:07
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