PESHAWAR, June 26: The NWFP government and the Swat Taliban have vowed to abide by the terms of their agreement, reached last month.
“There were some irritants in the peace deal that have been removed,” provincial Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour told journalists after holding talks with associates of militant cleric Maulana Fazlullah here on Thursday.
He said the agreement would remain intact.A delegation of the Taliban, led by Muslim Khan, held talks with the provincial government’s team to salvage the Swat deal. The provincial government’s peace envoy Afrasiyab Khattak, Senior Minister Rahim Dad Khan and officials participated in the talks.
Muslim Khan said the Taliban wanted to keep the deal intact but a delay in implementing it could jeopardise the peace process in Swat.
In reply to a question, he did not deny Taliban’s hand in the recent spate of violence, including attacks on security personnel and burning of a girls’ school and a motel.
“As long as the government delays implementation of the peace agreement, such incidents will occur,” he remarked.
But, he added, there were some elements in the administration, military and anti-state groups in the region who were trying to sabotage the deal.
Mr Bilour said the provincial government would expedite implementation of the agreement. He said 45 under-trial prisoners would be released soon, but the government had not given any timeframe for releasing the detainees.
He said the Taliban had reservations over security checkposts in the area and the implementation committee would chalk out a plan for the readjustment of troops.
He said local people were facing problems because of the checkposts which had been set up unnecessarily.
However, he ruled out withdrawal of the army from Swat unless the law and order situation improved. He said that the local Taliban would cooperate with the administration to establish the writ of the government.
He said the provincial government would soon start paying compensation to people who had lost their relatives and properties during the military operation.
About enforcement of Sharia in Swat, he said the government was committed to implementing the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation of 1999.
The Taliban blamed the troops for the prevailing situation and termed them a major hindrance in the way of restoration of peace.
Muslim Khan alleged that the administration had detained an unknown number of people at the Circuit House in Mingora.
He said that after the release of 45 of their companions, the Taliban would take up the issue of the Mingora detainees. “The Taliban want an unconditional release of the 45 prisoners without any surety bond.”