Pak militants scrap peace deal

PESHWAR: A group of Pakistani Taliban said they had scrapped a peace deal in a northwest tribal region, provoking fears today that fighting between government troops and insurgents will expand.

“We are revoking our peace deal with the government,” said Ahmedullah Ahmedi, spokesman for the group in North Waziristan, where the military this week suffered its worst ambush in recent months. “We will continue attacking military targets in the area until troops are completely withdrawn and drone attacks halted,” said Ahmedi in one of several telephone calls made to journalists.

At least 44 suspected US drone attacks targeting Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt have killed more than 440 people since August 2008 in raids that Pakistan publicly opposes as counter-productive.

No Pakistani government official nor military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas were available to comment on the militants’ announcement.

Signed in 2007, the agreement with the North Waziristan group headed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur was never made public and the militants did not disarm. Pro-Taliban, Bahadur aligned with Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud early this year under an umbrella mujahedeen council but declared an intention to retain a separate identity for his own group.

Bahadur could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Analysts fear that Pakistan’s already entrenched conflict with Islamist militants could now expand to North Waziristan, which lies on the border with Afghanistan.

“All previous agreements have become irrelevant and the theatre of war will now expand,” defence and political analyst Hasan Askari told AFP. “Since Al-Qaeda is present in Waziristan, they are going to come in to fight Pakistan.”