Pakistani militants talk peace amid criticism | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 18, 2009

Pakistani militants talk peace amid criticism

US dubs truce deal 'a negative development'

Pakistan dispatched a pro-Taliban cleric to talk peace with militants in the former tourist haven of Swat yesterday, a day after it agreed to a truce with the extremists and pledged to implement Islamic law in the region as part of a widely criticised deal.
A US defence official called the agreement "a negative development" and a Pakistani civil rights activist dubbed it a surrender to militants believed to control up to 80 percent of the Swat Valley, which lies near the northwest tribal regions where al-Qaeda and Taliban have long had strongholds.
But several Swat residents welcomed the prospect of peace after more than a year of fighting that has killed hundreds, sent up to third of the valley's 1.5 million people fleeing and ruined the tourist industry in a region less than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from the capital, Islamabad.
"May God protect this peace deal," said Haji Javed, 40, a shop owner in Swat's main town, Mingora. "We saw a lot of destruction during the fighting between the army and the Taliban. We are happy that they have agreed to give peace a chance."

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