Taliban violates Swat truce
The Swat Taliban violated the ceasefire with the Pakistani military twice on Sunday, prompting protests from the local government.
In the Kambar region of Swat, the Taliban abducted a district commander of the paramilitary Frontier Corps and four of his troops, Geo News reported. In the Kabal region, Taliban forces attacked a military vehicle transporting sick troops.
The military did not respond to either incident, except for filing a complaint. A "protest has been registered before the concerned authorities that have been asked to bar extremists from such attacks in the future," according to Geo News.
The Taliban and the government agreed to an indefinite ceasefire as the peace agreement, know as the Malakand Accord, is negotiated. The peace agreement, if signed, would put an end to the brutal fighting in Swat, which began in 2007 and resulted in the Taliban's taking total control over the district.
The agreement calls for the military to halt operations and return to barracks in exchange for the implementation of sharia in the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, Chitral, and Kohistan. The Taliban has demanded that its prisoners be released and an amnesty be granted for its members. A similar peace agreement failed in 2008.
The Taliban has violated the ceasefire several times since it was implemented in late February. The most prominent case took place just days after the ceasefire took effect. The Taliban captured the district coordinating officer for Swat and six of his Frontier Corps Guards. A Taliban spokesman said the officer was a "guest" who was detained to "discuss some issues." The government freed several Taliban prisoners to secure the captives' release.
Even as the Taliban violate the ceasefire, Sufi Mohammed, the radical cleric who served as the intermediary between the government and the Taliban, has demanded that sharia, or Islamic law, to be implemented by March 15. Sufi threatened to launch protests if the demand was not met. Sufi also provided a list of Taliban prisoners to be released.
The government quickly agreed to Sufi's demand to implement sharia by mid-March, and also caved on his demand to oversee the appointment of judges for the sharia courts. The government said Taliban prisoners "would be released in phases after scrutiny by the government," Dawn reported.
Background on Sufi Mohammed
Sufi Mohammed is the spiritual leader of the outlawed Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law. He claimed to have eschewed violence after being released from prison in November 2007 as a condition of a similar failed peace agreement in Swat. Sufi led more than 10,000 Pakistanis into Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001. Mullah Fazlullah, the radical anti-government cleric behind the insurgency and terror attacks in Swat, is his son-in-law.
Sufi and the Swat Taliban maintained very close links to the radical administration of the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, the pro-Taliban mosque in the heart of Islamabad whose followers enforced sharia and kidnapped policemen just one mile from the seat of government. The Pakistani military stormed the Lal Masjid in July 2007 after a several-month standoff. More than a hundred followers and more than a dozen soldiers were killed in the battle.
In recent interviews, Sufi has declared his hatred for democracy and the West, and described Mullah Omar's regime in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 as "ideal."
"From the very beginning, I have viewed democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels. Islam does not allow democracy or elections," Sufi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur just days before the Malakand Accord was signed. "I believe the Taliban government formed a complete Islamic state, which was an ideal example for other Muslim countries."