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NWFP ruling party says peace deal with militants virtually dead.

ISLAMABAD, July 30 Kyodo

A senior member of the ruling Awami National Party in Northwest Frontier Province said Wednesday a peace agreement with local Taliban militants in the Swat valley is virtually dead because the Taliban have failed to honor the agreement.

''They (the Taliban) destroyed 65 girls' schools in violation of the agreement signed with the provincial government. In the latest incident they abducted at least 25 police and paramilitary troops on Monday,'' Sen. Haji Mohammad Adeel said in an interview with Kyodo News.

Pakistan's scenic Swat valley has been virtually seized by local Taliban who support the war in Afghanistan against the U.S.-led forces and the government of President Hamid Karzai. They expelled government functionaries from the area and announced the enforcement of Islamic law.

After coming into power in April this year, the NWFP government concluded the peace deal with two Swat-based militant groups, namely, Shariat-e-Mohammadi and Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, under which the two groups agreed to halt violent activities and attacks on government buildings and functionaries.

Adeel said that while the agreement with Shariat-e-Mohammadi has been honored, Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, which is led by radical cleric Mullah Fazlullah, has not implemented the agreement.

Adeel said the provincial government had honored its commitments to release the militants arrested in Swat. However, he said Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat has gone back on its commitments, saying Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has called for an end to the peace agreement.

The Pakistani army on Tuesday launched an operation in Mingora, the main town in Swat, in which 20 to 25 militants were reportedly killed.

Tahrik-e-Taliban, an umbrella organization of militants which includes Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, is demanding the withdrawal of the Pakistani army from all tribal areas and parts of northwestern Pakistan where the Taliban movement has gained strength.

Adeel said the army would stay in the region until the law and order situation is completely restored. ''How can army be withdrawn from Swat if there is no peace in the area?''

The NWFP governor and chief minister agreed Tuesday to use force wherever there was violence, according to Adeel.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 4, 2008
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