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Argos Media

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Pakistan Taleban talks 'halted' - 0 views

  • The Taleban's talks with the government in north-west Pakistan have been suspended amid army operations against militants, a Taleban negotiator says.
  • Pakistani troops and Taleban militants have clashed in Lower Dir in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), forcing hundreds of civilians to flee.
  • "We are demanding a suspension of the operation so that Sufi Muhammad is able to get out of his village."
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  • The clashes started when the government deployed troops in some areas of the district over the weekend.
  • The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says this was presumably to prevent an incursion by militants similar to the recent one in Buner district.
  • The Taleban spokesman in Swat, Muslim Khan, accused the government of violating the terms of the peace agreement in Swat.

    The Taleban warned of militant attacks in all parts of Malakand division - the group of six districts where the new Sharia law has been enforced - if the military operation in Dir was not halted.

  • The government and the military say they still want to abide by the terms of the Swat peace deal and consider it intact.

    However, they believe that the Taleban are yet to fulfil their part of the deal, which is to disarm and to concede administrative power to government departments.

  • In Buner, the presence of the Taleban continues in main towns despite an announcement on Friday that they would leave the area and go back to their bases in Swat.

    Troops have still not advanced beyond a border village.

Argos Media

In Pakistan, Guile Helps Taliban Gain - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Initially, Buner was a hard place for the Taliban to crack. When they attacked a police station in the valley district last year, the resistance was fearless. Local people picked up rifles, pistols and daggers, hunted down the militants and killed six of them.
  • But it was not to last. In short order this past week the Taliban captured Buner, a strategically vital district just 60 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. The militants flooded in by the hundreds, startling Pakistani and American officials with the speed of their advance.
  • That Buner fell should be no surprise, local people say. Last fall, the inspector general of police in North-West Frontier Province, Malik Naveed Khan, complained that his officers were being attacked and killed by the hundreds.

    Mr. Khan was so desperate — and had been so thoroughly abandoned by the military and the government — that he was relying on citizen posses like the one that stood up to the Taliban last August.

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  • Today, the hopes that those civilian militias inspired are gone, brushed away by the realization that Pakistanis can do little to stem the Taliban advance if their government and military will not help them.
  • The peace deal the military struck with the Taliban in February in neighboring Swat further demoralized people in Buner. Residents and local officials said they asked themselves how they could continue to resist the Taliban when the military had abandoned the effort. The Taliban were emboldened by the deal: it called for the institution of Shariah, the strict legal code of Islam based on the Koran, throughout Malakand Agency, which includes Swat and Buner. It allowed the Taliban amnesty for their killings, floggings and destruction of girls schools in Swat.
  • Still, when the Taliban rolled into Buner from Swat through the town of Gokan on April 5, a well-to-do businessman, Fateh Mohammed, organized another posse of civilian fighters to take on the militants in the town of Sultanwas.

    Five civilians and three policemen were killed, he said. Some newspaper reports said 17 Taliban were killed.

  • At that point, the chief government official in charge of Malakand, Mohammed Javed, proposed what he called peace talks. Mr. Javed, an experienced bureaucrat in the Pakistani civil service, was appointed in late February as the main government power broker in Malakand even though he was known to be sympathetic to the Taliban, a senior government official in North-West Frontier Province said. The government had been under pressure to bring calm to Swat and essentially capitulated to Taliban demands for Mr. Javed’s appointment, the official said.
  • In an apparent acknowledgment that Mr. Javed had been too sympathetic to the Taliban, the government announced Saturday that he had been replaced by Fazal Karim Khattack.
  • In what some residents in Swat and now in Buner say had been a pattern of favorable decisions led by Mr. Javed on behalf of the Taliban, the talks in Buner turned out to be a “betrayal,” said a former police officer from the area, who was afraid to be identified.
  • To bolster their strength, and insinuate themselves in Buner, the Taliban also relied heavily on the adherents of a hard-line militant group, the Movement for the Implementation of the Shariah of Muhammad, which has agitated for Islamic law in Pakistan.

    Their leader, Sufi Mohammed, comes from the region around Swat and Buner and has whipped up local support and intimidated Taliban opponents.

  • early last week the Taliban showed their power by ordering the state courts shut. They announced that they would open Islamic courts, practicing Shariah, by the end of the month.

    The militants have also placed a tax payable to the Taliban on all marble quarried at mines, said a senior police officer who worked in Buner.

  • The police were so intimidated they mostly stayed inside station houses, he said. “They are setting up a parallel government.”
  • With their success in Buner, the Taliban felt flush with success and increasingly confident that they could repeat the template, residents and analysts said. In the main prize, the richest and most populous province, Punjab, in eastern Pakistan, the Taliban are relying on the sleeper cells of other militant groups, including the many fighters who had been trained by the Pakistani military for combat in Kashmir, and now felt abandoned by the state, they said.
  • It would not be difficult for the Taliban to seize Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, by shutting down the airport and blocking the two main thoroughfares from Islamabad, a Western official with long experience in the province said.

    At midweek, a convoy of heavily armed Taliban vehicles was seen barreling along the four-lane motorway between Islamabad and Peshawar, according to Mr. Sherpao, the former minister of the interior.

  • Across North-West Frontier Province, the Taliban are rapidly consolidating power by activating cells that consisted of a potent mix of jihadist groups, he said.

Argos Media

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Taleban announce key withdrawal - 0 views

  • The Taleban say they are withdrawing from a Pakistani district where their consolidation of power this week has caused deep concern in the US.

    A Taleban spokesman said commander Maulana Fazlullah had issued the order for fighters to pull back from Buner, just 100km (62 miles) from Islamabad.

  • The Taleban have agreed a peace deal bringing Sharia law to some districts in return for ending their insurgency.

    The peace deal covers six districts of Malakand division, including the troubled Swat region, in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

  • The Taleban have almost full control of Swat and this week had strengthened operations in Buner.
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  • Administration officials in NWFP have confirmed that Taleban fighters have started to leave.
  • the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says circumstances suggest the militants are now under pressure and that a national consensus is building among the public and political parties that they must be challenged with force.
  • Sympathy for the militant movement has been on the decline, our correspondent says, since the airing of footage showing a young girl being flogged as a punishment in Swat.

    Although the Taleban denied ordering the punishment, their public standing has plummeted.

  • The Taleban had been expected to lay down their arms under the peace deal and allow police and other officials to resume their duties.

    However, the Taleban had further consolidated their hold on Buner.

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