PESHAWAR, July 26 The head of banned Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM), Maulana Sufi Muhammad, was arrested here on Sunday.

Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain said at a press conference here that police arrested Sufi Muhammad from a house in Sethi Town.

According to sources, two sons of Sufi Muhammad were also arrested from the house where they had been living since July 6. Mian Iftikhar, however, did not confirm the arrest of Sufi's sons.

“The government has arrested Maulana Sufi Muhammad under 16 MPO and he will be tried under the law of the land for his highly objectionable activities,” Mian Iftikhar said.

His activities were undermining government's efforts to restore peace in the region, he said.

The minister said the government had released Maulana Sufi for the sake of peace in Malakand and now had arrested him for the sake of peace in Malakand. He said people of Malakand had paid a heavy price for peace and nobody would be allowed to again create unrest in the area.

Sufi Mohammad, he said, had been released because the government believed that he understood the gravity of the situation and would not repeat his wrongdoings. But he started reorganising his group and convened meetings of shoora in Peshawar which was unacceptable for the government, Mian Iftikhar said.

Sufi was released on April 21 last year from a prison in Dera Ismail Khan. He had been detained on his return from Afghanistan where he had gone to defend the crumbling Taliban government.

Most of his men he had taken to Afghanistan to fight western forces were either killed or arrested and are now serving jail terms in that country. The government released him after he signed a peace deal on Feb 6 this year and promised to mediate with militants, led by his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, to stop violence and lay down their weapons.

Under the controversial deal, the government agreed to promulgate Nizam-i-Adl regulations in Malakand division. When the peace deal collapsed and security forces launched an operation against militants on May 5, he was seen in Amandara before surfacing in Peshawar early this month.

“Sufi Muhammad is the main culprit. He is responsible for militancy and violence in Malakand and he will be brought to justice.”

All cases against him would be reopened, he said.

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