24 Apr : Heavily armed Taliban on Friday began pulling out from the strategic Buner town and were returning to their bastion in Swat valley after a deal was brokered by hardline cleric Sufi Mohammed, amid intense global pressure on Pakistan over the presence of militants so close to Islamabad."Mullah Fazlullah, Taliban’s top commander in the Swat valley, has ordered his fighters to withdraw from Buner district," Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan was quoted by the news channel as saying.
The decision by Taliban to withdraw came after meetings between Taliban leaders Qari Muhammad Khan and Muslim Khan and Malakand Divisional Commissioner Syed Muhammad Javed in the presence of Maulvi Sufi Mohammed, who acted as a mediator, TV channels reported.
Following the deal, Taliban militants started pulling out of Buner, which is just 100 kms away from the federal capital.
The meeting with militant commanders came as President Asif Ali Zardari assured the US that Pakistan government will not allow anybody to challenge its writ or run a parallel administration in any part of the country.
Reacting to international concerns over reports of Taliban advancing towards the Pakistani capital, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Parliament that country’s defence was in safe hands and its nuclear arsenal was secure.
The move to get the Taliban vacate the two towns has assumed urgency as the US, which is highly critical of the Swat deal is putting on pressure on authorities in Islamabad to confront the Taliban.
Pakistan has already moved units of paramilitary, frontier constabulary into the region who are now manning police stations and government buildings.
A confrontation appears brewing as heavily armed Taliban militants continue to patrol main thoroughfares.Armed militants have also moved into Shangla district, which is merely 60 kms from the federal capital.
However, Mufti Bashir, a local Taliban commander in Buner, has said that the militants will remain in the district as they have no intention of launching an offensive against anyone after the holding of a peace jirga in the area on Thursday.
During the jirga, the Taliban agreed not to openly move around with weapons but said they would remain in Buner.The Taliban moved into Buner on April four and subsequently took over mosques and government offices.
They also looted vehicles and equipment from government institutions, relief agencies and NGOs.The militants on Thursday moved into Shangla and launched efforts to enforce Shariah in the area.