Just within 24 hours of Pakistan’s efforts to seek peace with Taliban, the move seems to be falling flat on its face as authorities threatened a fresh military offensive and defiant Taliban patrolled a key town placed under curfew.
Tensions resurfaced as Taliban hardliners rejected new Islamic Appellate courts, the declaration of the formation of which was made yesterday by North West Frontier Province government in a bid to pacify them.
According to analysts, after Taliban’s rejection of the courts, the three-month-old deal of establishing sharia courts in the Swat valley and abutting area in exchange for peace now holds no water.
The deal, ratified by President Asif Ali Zardari, was reached at between the two sides in February and was heavily disapprove of both in Pakistan as well as abroad. Pakistan has been under constant pressure from world community to crush Taliban uprising.
Authorities slapped a curfew on Swat’s main town Mingora to prevent any violent protest. However, armed Taliban were seen patrolling the streets of town in defiance, say witnesses.
A provincial cabinet minister from Swat threatened the Taliban with renewed military offensives after they rejected the Islamic appeals court.
Wajid Ali Khan, forestry minister, said that Taliban patrols were “an open infringement of the peace accord aimed at challenging the writ of the government” in the area.
“We will try to resolve issues through negotiation, but if they refuse to abide by the peace agreement, the government will have no option but launch an operation against them,” he added.
On the contrary, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said that the fighters were not signatory to the February agreement and threatened to retaliate any army offensive.
“We do not have any agreement with the government. If security forces attack us, we will respond,” Khan said.