Truce not final: FM Maulana

A provincial government official in the disputed area of Swat announced details of what he called a “permanent cease-fire” with the Taliban on Saturday....

Written by New York Times | Islamabad | Published: February 23, 2009 1:25:04 am

A provincial government official in the disputed area of Swat announced details of what he called a “permanent cease-fire” with the Taliban on Saturday. But hours later,the most powerful Taliban leader in Swat,Maulana Fazlullah,said over his FM radio station that he had only agreed to a 10-day truce and would consider an extension at the end of that period.

The different positions suggested that the truce agreed to five days ago by the national government,under which the army would stop hostilities in exchange for being allowed to put in place a system of Islamic law,remained in flux.

The national government said on Monday that it had agreed to a deal with another Taliban leader,Maulana Sufi Muhammad,who lacks the powerful forces of Fazlullah,his son-in-law. Fazlullah has the backing of the umbrella group of Pakistani Taliban,Tehrik-e-Taliban.

Syed Muhammad Javed,a newly appointed commissioner for Malakand,the region that includes the Swat Valley,said on Saturday: “Today,we are announcing a permanent cease-fire. The Taliban have also endorsed the cease-fire.” But Muslim Khan,a spokesman for the Swat Taliban,said: “We do welcome the government’s announcement… but as far as the cease-fire from our side,we can announce it on our own,and we will do that ourselves.”

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