ISLAMABAD, April 15 Pakistani Taliban will not lay down their arms in a northwestern valley as part of a deal that included the introduction of sharia law but will take their “struggle” to new areas, a militant spokesman said on Wednesday.

Details of the deal have not been made public but government officials backing the pact have said part of it was that militants would give up their arms.

However, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman in the Swat valley said they would be keeping their guns.

“Sharia doesn`t permit us to lay down arms,” Muslim Khan said by telephone. “If a government, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan, continues anti-Muslim policies, it`s out of the question that Taliban lay down their arms.”

The government has struggled to come up with an effective strategy to counter terrorism, alternating in different areas between military offensives and peace deals.

Some Taliban fighters last week moved out of Swat and into Buner district, only 100km from Islamabad, and Mr Khan said his men would push into new areas.

“When we achieve our goal at one place, there are other areas where we need to struggle for it,” he said. Militants infiltrated into Swat in 2007 from strongholds on the Afghan border to the west to support a radical cleric.

Mr Khan said militants would go to Afghanistan to fight US-led forces if Afghan Taliban called for help.

“Our struggle is for a cause and that`s to enforce Allah`s rule on Allah`s land. We will send mujahideen to Afghanistan if they demand them,” he said.

One security analyst, retired Brigadier Syed Mehmood Shah, said peace could be found if the government disarmed the militants “The agreement should be given a chance.” But another said the Swat militants were part of an expanding network.—Reuters

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