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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 83

Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad arrested in northwest Pakistan

[caption id="attachment_3048" align="alignright" width="460" caption="Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad"]Pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad[/caption]

By Farzana Shah-Asian Tribune Correspondent in Pakistan

Peshawar, 27 July, ( Pakistani police on Sunday arrested pro-Taliban cleric Sufi Muhammad, who brokered a peace deal between the government and militants in the Swat Valley.

According to sources, heavy police contingent carried out a raid in Sethi Town Pahipura area of Peshawar and took into custody Maulana Sufi Muhammad along with his two sons, Ziaullah and Rizwanullah under 16 MPO. An accomplice identified as Tahir has also been apprehended. They have been shifted to an unknown location.

The sources disclosed to Asian Tribune on condition of anonymity that after his arrest Sufi Muhammad has been shifted to a house in Hayatabad-- a posh area of Peshawar -- bordering Khyber tribal agency.

According to sources there are chances of registering cases against Sufi Muhammad in connection with slaughtering of three commandos besides other incidents.

Mian Iftikhar, Information Minister for the North West Frontier Province, confirming the arrest said Sufi was arrested for encouraging violence and terrorism.

‘Instead of keeping his promises by taking steps for the sake of peace, and speaking out against terrorism, he did not utter a single word against terrorists,’ Iftikhar said in a news conference, adding that the cleric’s stance ‘encouraged terrorism. It encouraged violence.’

Iftikhar accused Sufi Muhammad of ‘again preparing to get more people killed’ and said: ‘We cannot let it happen. The price we have paid for the sake of peace, we cannot allow any person to disturb the peace.’

Iftikhar said Sufi would be investigated regarding his role as mediator between the government and the Taliban, and that a case would then be made based on that investigation.

Sufi negotiated a truce with the government in February that imposed Sharia, or Islamic, law in Swat in exchange for an end to two years of fighting.

The deal collapsed in April when the Taliban advanced into neighboring districts, triggering a military offensive that prompted a spree of retaliatory attacks by militants in the northwest and other areas of Pakistan.

It is to be mentioned here that Sufi Muhammad has been residing in Sethi Town area of Peshawar for the last 20 days.

However on Saturday the militant leader resurfaced when Sufi Muhammad’s son Rizwanullah called the media to handover a written statement of the banned religious outfit, disclosing that his father is not in government custody.

A statement signed by at least seven TNSM office-bearers including the TNSM Swat Amir Muhammad Iqbal says Mualana Sufi Muhammad is not in government captivity and is living in a rented house at Sethi Town

The statement says the IDPS from Malakand and TNSM Shura have met Sufi Muhammad to discuss the current situation.

However on Sunday the police arrested him along with his sons and a relative.

Earlier there were reports that he had been hiding in Peshawar for the last one and a half month.

- Asian Tribune -

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