Pakistan Rejects Plea to Halt Buner Operation

TNSM Head Emerges After Being Missing Most of the Week

by Jason Ditz, May 01, 2009

The Pakistani government has failed to reach an agreement with the Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM) regarding the peace deal in Malakand, and rejected calls by TNSM chief Sufi Muhammad to halt the ongoing military operation in the Buner district. Few other details were available about the secretive talks, but additional rounds are expected to be held as soon as tomorrow.

Though the TNSM has taken a backseat to the more militant Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Buner district conflict, the high esteem in which Sufi Muhammad is held by both groups enabled him to broker a TTP pullout from Buner, which the government ultimately rejected as illusory and ended with them launching an attack on the district.

But after leading the TTP convoy back to Mingora, Muhammad went mysteriously missing on Sunday. The timing was suspicious, coming just before the government launched an attack on the cleric’s home district of Lower Dir. In the end, however, Muhammad re-emerged late yesterday to publicly condemn the government’s attacks, saying they were a violation of the peace deal negotiated between them and the TNSM to end the fighting in the Swat Valley.

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