Pakistan frees terror suspects

Earlier authorities pardoned five renegade tribal leaders accused of harbouring al-Qaeda fugitives.

In exchange, the tribal chiefs promised to live peacefully and not help terrorists.

The deal could end months of fighting between tribesmen and Pakistan’s army in the lawless region of South Waziristan.

The region has emerged as the front line in Pakistan’s battle to control tribal militants with strong ethnic and ideological ties to Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime.

Amid pressure from the United States, Pakistan has deployed some 70,000 troops in the seven tribal areas.

Traditionally free of government control, regions like Waziristan are believed to provide sanctuary for anti-government rebels operating in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

An influx of development aid has convinced most of the tribal populations to accep the military’s presence over the past two years.

But in South Waziristan, tribes there are resisting authorities with brute force.

A military operation late last month involving thousands of army troops killed more than 120 people and left hundreds of villagers homeless.

About 163 suspects were arrested, but hundreds more militants, with suspected ties to al-Qaeda, were believed to have escaped.

Among the militants who got away were five powerful tribesmen who had allegedly sheltered al-Qaeda fugitives.

They finally agreed to the government amnesty on Saturday, after their own Zali Khel tribe raised a 2,000-strong militia to pressure them to accept the deal.

The government kept to its promise and released 50 of the 163 prisoners arrested last month.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation