Pro-Taliban Cleric Put under House Arrest in Pak

In Pakistan, the pro-Taliban radical cleric, Sufi Muhammad, has been put under house arrest for speaking against the government and inciting violence and terrorism. The cleric had earlier brokered an unsuccessful peace deal in Swat valley.

It should be noted that the powerful cleric, who is also father-in-law of the Taliban leader in Swat Maulana Fazlullah meddled between the government and the Taliban side to get a peace deal negotiated in February, the deal that had helped the Taliban take control of the valley.

Within two months, the deal failed with the Taliban moving beyond the Swat valley and heading towards Islamabad – capturing territory right up to within 100 kms of Pakistan’s capital.

The Pakistani government, fiercely under pressure, particularly from the US, launched an military offensive in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas.

Almost 2 million people had to flee their homes and take refuge in camps.

In the last two weeks, hundreds of thousands have been returning home as the offensive winds down, although sporadic fighting persists.

Sufi Muhammad who leads a pro-Taliban group was jailed in 2002 but was freed last year after he renounced violence.

But his arrest is being seen by some as an indication that the government will no longer negotiate with the Taliban – a position likely to please the US, which is looking for signs Islamabad is serious about cracking down on militants.

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