Pakistani authorities have released 12 Taliban prisoners in the restive Swat valley as a goodwill gesture in the wake of a peace deal signed by the North West Frontier Province government and religious hardliners.
The release of the Taliban prisoners on Saturday coincided with talks between NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and religious hardliners on implementing Shariah or Islamic law in Swat and Malakand areas.
The peace deal signed in February between the NWFP government and Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi,an outlawed hardline group headed by Maulana Sufi Mohammad,envisages the enforcement of Shariah in Swat and Malakand.
Information Minister Hussain told the TNSM leaders that the implementation of Shariah and appointment of Qazis for Islamic courts will be finalised after discussions with Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti.
Following the controversial pact,Sufi Mohammad began parleys with Taliban militants led by his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah.
Several countries,including the US and India,have expressed concern over the peace deal.
Though the authorities and the Taliban announced separate ceasefires to facilitate the parleys,the truce has been violated several times by the Taliban. The militants killed two soldiers in an attack on Tuesday.