Pakistan: Militants receive compensation for peace deal

Karachi, 23 Feb. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Pakistani militants in the country's northwest are understood to have received 480 million rupees ( 6 million dollars) in compensation after agreeing to a cease conflict with government forces for an indefinite period. Well-placed security sources have told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the militants agreed to lay down their arms and endorse the deal between the government and local leader Sufi Mohammad to impose Sharia law in the region.

"The amount has been paid through a backchannel, " a senior security official told AKI on condition of anonymity.

"It is compensation for those who were killed during military operations and compensation for the properties destroyed by the security forces. In fact, negotiations for this package were finalised well before Maulana Sufi Mohammad signed a peace deal."

The security official said the amount was delivered from a special fund of president Asif Ari Zardari. All the tribal areas come under the president's jurisdiction and a special aid package, including a donation from the US, was designated for the tribal area by the president's office and distributed through the governor's office in the North West Frontier Province.

"Some other smaller amounts are also under negotation which shall also be delivered soon," the official confirmed.

An historic agreement endorsing Sharia law was reached between the government and local leader Sufi Mohammad a week ago. The deal ended two years of fierce conflict in which at least 1,700 government soldiers and hundreds of civilians were killed and 600,000 people were displaced.

The Taliban endorsed the deal after Sufi Mohammad, head of the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi discussed details of the government's proposal with Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and demanded that the Taliban lay down its arms.

The Taliban initially expressed its concerns and demanded guarantees regarding the withdrawal of around 10,000 Pakistani army soldiers deployed in the Swat Valley.

On Monday, the director-general of Inter- Services-Public Relations major general Athar Abbas officially announced the end of military operations in the province's volatile Swat Valley on Monday. He was talking to journalists in Islamabad.

The Pakistan army said it had ceased all operations against Taliban militants in Swat, even though US officials have expressed concern about the deal.

"The state failed to control foreign elements in Swat," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas from Inter Services Public Relations said. "The militants were getting funds from state enemies."

But Abbas also noted the failure of state machinery in Swat like police as the major reason for the government's failure to defeat militants.

"It created a vaccum. Security forces just cannot operate without the help of state machinery," he said.

"It is also essential to win the heart and minds of the people. Since militants blended with the civilian population, it was practically impossible to target them. In these circumstances, if the military continued its operations, innocent people would have been killed,” Abbas maintained. 

Meanwhile leader of Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi Sufi Mohammad  said in a media conference in Swat on Monday that the peace agreement would be implemented in phases and appealed to people to come back to their homes.

He asked the Taliban to immediately stop their armed opposition movement and avoid carrying guns in public.

He also demanded the government to release jailed militants and ordered the military to immediately leave all schools and mosques.

Meanwhile, a shura or tribal council of mujahadeen leaders namely including Baitullah Mehsud, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Moulvi Nazeer and Gul Bahadur formed an alliance and vowed to stop all hostilites against Pakistani security forces .

Instead they vowed to launch a joint struggle against NATO forces in Afghanistan next month.




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