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April 21, 2008
Pakistan Releases Pro-Taliban Militant
A new goverment in Pakistan with a promise to find a new way to fight terrorism.
Except releasing a pro-Taliban extremist from prison would seem to most observers to be sending the wrong message:
Pakistan on Monday released a pro-Taliban leader who sent thousands of fighters against the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, officials said, in what appeared to be part of efforts to broker peace with Islamic militants. Muhammed is the father in law of Maulana Fazlullah who terrorized Peshawar and other towns with attacks on symbols of the government and occassional suicide bombings aimed at civilians. The release will almost certainly be objected to by the US and Afghan authorities who might wonder if Muhammad will renew his attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
There was no immediate comment from the government on the freeing of Sufi Muhammad, who is the father-in-law of the current militant leader in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Muhammad was jailed in 2002 and was shifted to a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar five months ago because of poor health.
Ajmal Khan, the deputy superintendent of Peshawar's main jail, said the government on Monday "issued an order for the release of Sufi Mohammad, and I have conveyed this order to him."
Shortly after, Muhammad left the hospital in a vehicle under police escort, accompanied by followers wearing black turbans, said Zafar Khan, a paramedic at the hospital.
It bears repeating (as I've made the point previously here) that any deal cut by the Pakistani authorities with the militants may make Pakistan more peaceful but will almost certainly be a huge problem for NATO in Afghanistan. If so, NATO will have no choice but to either delcare war on the militiants hiding in the Pakistan provinces that border Afghanistan or give up and leave.