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Key Pakistani Tribe Signs Peace Deal with Government

By VOA News
10 March 2009

Leaders of a key tribe in northwestern Pakistan have signed a peace deal with the government, agreeing to stop sheltering foreign militants in a region that is believed to have a large al-Qaida presence.

Pakistani officials and leaders of the Mamund tribe signed the 28-point agreement in the Bajaur tribal region, where six months of intense fighting between government troops and Taliban militants came to a halt a few weeks ago.

The Mamund tribe is the largest in the region, and its members include most of the local Taliban leadership.

Pakistani authorities have previously signed similar pacts with local leaders in the restive tribal districts near the border with Afghanistan, but they have generally fallen apart fairly quickly.

Officials say under the deal, tribal leaders pledge to stop harboring foreign fighters and stop them from crossing the Afghan border.

The agreement also bans attacking government officials or security forces, displaying of heavy weapons and building of militant training camps.

Some reports say the deal calls for the surrender of several local Taliban leaders, including commander Faqir Muhammad and spokesman Maulvi Omar. A tribal leader told the Associated Press news agency that the militants could be pardoned or freed, but there has been no independent confirmation of that report.

The local Taliban leader in Bajaur, Faqir Mohammad, declared a unilateral cease-fire late last month. Less than a week later, a Pakistani military commander said government troops had defeated militants in Bajaur after a six-month offensive, and now controlled the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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