Pro-government militant leader Turkistan Bhitani on Saturday surrendered to authorities along with hundreds of his supporters in northwest Pakistan, saying he had been asked to lay down arms by the authorities.
Bhitani, whose group has been fighting the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan that was till recently led by slain Baitullah Mehsud, surrendered with his fighters in the Tank area of North West Frontier Province.
He said authorities had asked him to give up his armed struggle against the local Taliban. Bhitani claimed his group had about 5,000 armed fighters. Five hundred of them had laid down their arms today and the rest would surrender gradually, he told reporters.
Earlier reports had suggested that Bhitani had been arrested by authorities as he had spoken out against the government while addressing a gathering in the region some days ago.
While speaking to reporters, Bhitani said he would cooperate with the government.