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Taliban leader offers truce

March 16, 2008

BAJAUR, March 15: Militant commander Maulana Faqir Mohammad on Saturday offered the new government a ceasefire and opening of dialogue if it stopped supporting President Pervez Musharraf.

Speaking at a gathering in Mamoond sub-district, he said Pakistani Taliban could not trust the government as long as Gen (retd) Musharraf was around.

He said that militants wanted better relation with the government, but the new leadership also needed to stop supporting Mr Musharraf’s pro-US policies and safeguarding American interests.

He warned that a durable peace would remain elusive so long as Pakistan continued its support for American policies.

The militant commander criticised US plans to train Pakistani paramilitary forces.

“This is an insult to one of the world’s best trained armies,” he said.

He also warned against any action against militant leader Baitullah Mehsud. “The government should desist from deliberately creating a law and order situation in the country,” Faqir Mohammad warned.

He said the Taliban had put a ban on using hoods and wearing of battle fatigues by militants in Bajaur to help improve law and order.

He claimed that anti-social elements were involved in petty crimes in the guise of Taliban.

Faqir Mohammad said that Pakistan’s soil would not be allowed to be used in support of the US-led forces.

The militant commander also warned Afghan refugees in Pakistan against serving in the Afghan army or ‘facilitating’ foreign troops.

“Stop serving the Afghan army and the coalition forces or leave Pakistan. Action will be taken against refugees who live here but are serving the Afghan army and the coalition forces.”