PESHAWAR, April 21: The NWFP government has released Maulana Sufi Mohammad, chief of the banned Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM), who had been in detention for more than six years.

He was released on Monday following an agreement with leaders of the banned organisation who denounced militancy and condemned the elements involved in attacks on state institutions, police and other law-enforcement agencies.

Under the agreement, the government withdrew all cases pending against Sufi and commuted his remaining prison term. The organisation formed in 1989 was banned in 2002 under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

“The organisation (TNSM) respects the government of Pakistan and state institutions so that peace and the writ of the state is restored in Malakand region,” said the agreement signed at the Chief Minister’s House.

“We want peace and complete writ of the government. Those people who are bent upon lawlessness will be invited to restore peace through peaceful means, but if they do not refrain from militancy the government will have the right to take action against them.”

“The government has taken the right decision and it will help in restoration of durable peace in the region,” Sufi Mohammad told journalists. He said disputes should be resolved through talks.

The six-point agreement was signed by Senior Ministers Bashir Ahmad Bilour and Rahim Dad Khan, Minister Wajid Ali Khan and ANP provincial chief Afrasiab Khattak from the government side and TNSM’s Malakand chief Maulana Mohammad Alam, Swat district chief Maulana Abdul Haq, Maulana Badshah Zaib from Upper Dir, Maulana Salar Khan and Saiful Malook from Buner, Dr Ismail from Bajaur and Multan Mir from Malakand.

The TNSM reiterated that army and police personnel and other government officials were their Muslim brethren and any violence against them was against the teachings of Islam.

Sufi Mohammad was arrested along with scores of his supporters on Nov 20, 2001, when they were coming to Pakistan from Afghanistan where they had gone to fight against US forces. He and 30 others were tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulations. He was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment in 2002.

Under the agreement, the TNSM pledged to continue its struggle for the enforcement of Shariat through peaceful means.

It distanced itself from ‘elements’ involved in attacks on government officials, installations and law-enforcement agencies and condemned ‘miscreants’ indulging in such activities.

The preamble of the agreement released by the provincial government said that the death of innocent people in suicide bombings and attacks on government installations and functionaries were against Islam and moral principles and a violation of human rights.

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