Hardliner leads peace march in Swat valley

A hardline religious leader led hundreds of his supporters in a peace march in the violence-hit northwestern Swat valley on Wednesday apparently to convince Taliban militants...

Written by Press Trust Of India | Islamabad | Published:February 19, 2009 1:32 am

A hardline religious leader led hundreds of his supporters in a peace march in the violence-hit northwestern Swat valley on Wednesday apparently to convince Taliban militants to honour a new pact reached with the Government,which envisages their laying down arms.

Maulana Sufi Mohammad,the septuagenarian chief of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammedi,and some 300 followers marched through Mingora,the main city of Swat district in the North West Frontier Province.

The TNSM activists were joined by residents of Mingora,who have been yearning for peace from the hard violence by local Taliban militants over the past few months.

Mohammad is expected to set up a peace camp in Matta sub-district,considered a stronghold of the Taliban on a mission,which media reports said was to “salvage the seemingly irredeemable situation in Swat”.

The Dawn said the job assigned to Mohammad is considered by many analysts to be “too difficult,if not downright impossible” and his mission is “not only fraught with danger but is also entirely unpredictable”.

Mohammad and his supporters,carrying black and white flags representing the Taliban and peace,marched through Mingora as hundreds of residents shouted “we want peace”. Later,Mohammad told reporters that he plans to open dialogue with Taliban soon.

“We plan to ask them to lay down their arms. We are hopeful they will not let us down,” Mohammad was quoted as saying by TV channels.

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