PESHAWAR, June 28: Militants in the North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday responded cautiously to government’s decision to deploy 10,000 more troops on its border with Afghanistan, saying they would reassess the situation after the expiry of a month-long ceasefire.
“It is a policy statement and we do not want to interfere in the government policy. But we have offered one month’s conditional ceasefire at the end of which we will reassess the situation to see whether there has been any reduction in troops or their strength has actually grown”, Abdullah Farhad, who claims to speak for the militants told Dawn on phone from an undisclosed location.
The government said on Tuesday it would deploy another 10,000 troops in addition to the 80,000 already deployed in the region to stem cross-border infiltration.
The announcement was made at a joint press conference by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.
Mr Farhad said that they had already set forth four conditions for the ceasefire to remain effective and that included the abolition of recently-setup check-posts, confinement of the military to their garrisons and their eventual withdrawal from the troubled region.
Mr Farhad welcomed the restoration of tribal perks and privileges by the authorities at a jirga presided over by the administrator North Waziristan on Tuesday and said that the militants had responded by lifting curbs and assuring safety to 18 pro-government tribal elders.
The elders had been put on notice by the militants for refusing to comply by an order banning any government contact.
Militants’ spokesman said that they had also withdrawn masked men involved in keeping surveillance and executing people suspecting of spying or collaborating with the government and foreign powers.
“The masked men had the authority to keep an eye on suspects and kill them on the spot if proven guilty. All of them have now been withdrawn and we have asked the people to report to us if they find any masked man on the street”, the spokesman said.
The spokesman again accepted responsibility for the deadly suicide attack on a security check-post outside of regional headquarters, Miramshah and said that it had been carried out in self-defence.
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