Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pakistan closing in on pact with militant's Mehsud tribe

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, April 25 (Reuters) - Pakistan is close to clinching a peace pact with the Mehsuds, one of the most recalcitrant tribes in its tribal region bordering Afghanistan. “It's now a matter of days before we have an agreement. The talks are in a very advanced stage,” a senior government official involved in the negotiations told Reuters. A draft of the 15-point accord with the Mehsud tribal elders was shown to Reuters. It included a call for an end to militant activity, exchange of prisoners and gradual withdrawal of the army from South Waziristan. The draft did not explicitly say whether militants should stop cross-border attacks into neighbouring Afghanistan. But it did say Mehsud tribesmen should expel al Qaeda and other foreign fighters from their area within a month and stop their lands being used as a base for attacks. While the authorities and tribal elders made final touches to the pact, Baitullah Mehsud, who was declared as the leader of the Pakistani Taliban late last year, on Wednesday ordered his followers to stop attacks inside Pakistan. A government official described the ceasefire as part of a series of confidence building measures that will be taken before the agreement is signed. He said the government also planned to lift blockade of Mehsud territory by the military.

No comments: