Pakistani Taliban militants announced an indefinite ceasefire in the Swat valley in the northwest of the country on Tuesday, a day after the army said it was ceasing operations in the region.
The ceasefire, following an agreement by the authorities on the enforcement of Islamic sharia law in the valley, is likely to compound concerns among Western countries, which fear a truce will create another militant sanctuary in Pakistan.
Militants in Swat, which until 2007 was one of Pakistan’s prime tourist destinations, had already announced a 10-day truce after a radical cleric, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, struck a deal with authorities on the enforcement of sharia law.
That temporary truce has been made permanent, said a Taliban spokesman in the valley, 120 km northwest of Islamabad. “We have agreed on an indefinite ceasefire,” said the spokesman, Muslim Khan.
He said the Taliban in the valley, led by Sufi Mohammad’s militant son-in-law, Fazlullah, also decided to release three people, including two politicians, as a “goodwill gesture”.