Buner returning to normal after Taliban withdrawal

Islamabad, April 25 (Inditop) The situation in Buner in Pakistan’s restive northwest that had been forcibly occupied by the Taliban, raising fears that this federal capital just 100 km away could be under threat, is fast returning to normal with the withdrawal of the militants.

Markets have reopened and people have resumed their day-to-day activities but the courts remain closed.

The Taliban, which had taken complete control of the district earlier this week, began withdrawing Friday after talks between a government representative and radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the controversial Feb 16 Swat peace deal on imposing Sharia laws in seven districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that are collectively known as the Malakand division in return for the militants laying down their arms.

Instead, the Taliban left their Swat headquarters and moved south into Buner, unleashing a reign of terror that forced people to stay indoors.

On Friday, Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had served a strong warning on the Taliban, saying said the military fully backed the government in its fight against terrorism.

There were also reports that the army was preparing to go into action against the Taliban if they did not honour the peace accord.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has urged the government to convene a national conference to evolve consensus on resolving issues like countering the Taliban and other militant groups.

“The conference should not be confined to the heads of political parties inside and outside parliament. All stakeholders, including the military, judiciary…and civil society should be invited. We need everyone’s input if democracy is to function properly and deliver,” he told reporters at his country villa on the outskirts of Lahore Friday.

“We could call the conference on our own. But we thought it better that the government took the initiative and convened it,” he wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The response, Sharif said, had been positive, with Gilani telephoning him Thursday.

“His response was encouraging and he assured me that he would call the meeting without delay,” Sharif said.