PESHAWAR, Sept 8: NWFP Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai has ruled out withdrawal of army from North Waziristan, and said troops will remain along the Afghan border to check infiltration.

“The peace agreement is by no means meant to pull back army from the area; the troops will remain there,” Mr Aurakzai said told newsmen at the Governor’s House on Friday.

He rejected an impression that the government had signed a deal with militants or the local Taliban.

“We have not signed any agreement with the Taliban; this is a deal between the government and the Utmanzai tribe,” he said in reply to a question.

The governor, who is thought to be the main architect of the deal, defended all aspects of the agreement, including an amnesty for foreigners living in the area and return of weapons to militants.

“Militancy will not be encouraged by returning about 14 AK-47 rifles to the militants,” he asserted.

He said that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and others had been excluded from the amnesty offered to foreigners living in the tribal area.

About the number of foreigners in the area, he said that exact figures were not available but they might be in hundreds.

He claimed that the accord would be of far-reaching benefits to the entire region and the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan would also benefit from it.

He said members of the international coalition in the war against terrorism, including the United States and European countries, had been informed about the deal.

“I briefed the US ambassador thrice about the agreement. I have also talked to the French and German ambassadors,” he said when it was pointed out that the US government has reservations about the accord.

He said the government had done a lot of home work before engaging the grand jirga in the peace process.

“Though no-one from the international community had expressed reservations about the peace deal, we don’t need endorsements and recognition from any party to the agreement,” he maintained.

He said President Pervez Musharraf, during his recent visit to Kabul, had proposed to his Afghan counterpart to follow Pakistan’s policy to end insurgency in the war-torn country.

He said that after North Waziristan, he would focus on South Waziristan and constitute a jirga to end trouble in a few pockets of the agency.

Governor Aurakzai did not agree with a suggestion that the army had failed to curb militancy in North Waziristan and opted for dialogue after suffering heavy losses.

“Operations were successful and the army had killed many terrorists in the area. But certainly, the military operations had caused collateral damage due to which militants had gained sympathies of the common tribesmen who lost their relatives and property,” he said.

He said that the government would pay compensation and a committee would visit the area to assess the extent of damage caused by the military action.

He said compensation was being paid to the affected people in South Waziristan and the government had sanctioned Rs230 million for the purpose.

He said the government was working on a sustainable development plan for the tribal areas which, he claimed, would undergo revolutionary changes by 2015. He said the plan envisaged development expenditure of over Rs100 billion over the next nine years.

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