Source: The Associated Press
The government agreed to impose Islamic law and suspend a military offensive across a large swath of northwest Pakistan on Monday in concessions aimed at pacifying a spreading Taliban insurgency there.
The announcement came after talks with local Islamists, including one closely linked to the Taliban.
The move will likely concern the United States, which has warned Pakistan that such peace agreements allow al-Qaida and Taliban militants operating near the Afghan border time to rearm and regroup.
Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister for the North West Frontier Province, said authorities would impose Islamic law in Malakand region, which includes the Swat Valley. Swat is a one-time tourist haven in the northwest where extremists have gained sway through brutal tactics including beheading residents, burning girls schools and attacking security forces.
He said the laws would only be implemented when the valley was peaceful.
The Swat Taliban said Sunday they would observe a 10-day cease-fire in support of the peace process. They welcomed Monday's announcement, which did not mention any need for the militants to give up arms.
"Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah (Islamic) law," Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said. "If this really brings us the implementation of Shariah, we will fully cooperate with it."