Pakistan: Cleric, Taliban leader discuss peace

February 19, 2009 09:38

A hardline cleric sought Thursday to convince the Taliban to disarm under a pact with Pakistan's government that has been criticized at home and abroad as giving into militants ravaging the country's northwest, a militant spokesman said. Monday's deal allows for the imposition of Islamic law in the former tourist resort of Swat and surrounding districts in exchange for an end to a brutal insurgency that has killed hundreds and sent up to 1/3 of its 1.5 million people fleeing. A similar deal in Swat last year collapsed in a few months and was blamed for giving insurgents time to regroup. The cleric, Sufi Muhammad, met with Swat Valley Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah in an undisclosed location, Taliban spokesman said Muslim Khan. Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Muhammad, an Islamist leader once imprisoned but who has since publicly renounced violence.

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