PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Muslim militants in northwest Pakistan said today the government had agreed to impose Islamic law as part of a proposed peace deal in the lawless region where al-Qaida and Taliban militants increasingly hold sway.
The deal – expected to be announced later today – would cover the Swat valley, a one-time tourist destination where Taliban militants have been brutally enforcing a hardline version of Islamic law, burning schools and attacking government targets and security forces since the middle of last year when an earlier deal broke down.
Several past deals with militants in northwest Pakistan have failed and been criticized by the United States as merely giving insurgents time to regroup, but Pakistan says force alone cannot defeat the extremists wreaking havoc there and attacking U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, three missiles destroyed a house in the Kurram tribal region of the northwest, causing some causalities, witness Iqbal Khan said. It appeared likely that the attack was the latest in a barrage against suspected militants in the border region by unmanned American aircraft since August last year, but it was not immediately possible to confirm that.
Pakistani officials were not immediately available to comment.
Regaining the Swat Valley from militants is a major test for Pakistan’s shaky civilian leadership. Unlike the semiautonomous tribal regions where al-Qaida and Taliban have long thrived, the former tourist haven is supposed to be under full government control.
A 30-member delegation from a banned militant group in Swat arrived in the provincial capital Peshawar today to finalize details on the deal, said Amir Izzat Khan, a spokesman for the Tahrik Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi or the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law.
He said government representatives had agreed to their demand of imposition of Islamic or Sharia law.