Polio vaccination, girls education in Swat: Govt signs peace deal with TNSM
* Unlicensed FM station to continue broadcast
* Cleric to help restore law and order, stop militancy
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal provincial government on Tuesday struck a nine-point peace agreement with a powerful cleric who has led a campaign through an unlicensed radio station against polio vaccinations and education for girls in Swat district.
In exchange for allowing the FM radio station to continue broadcasts, Maulana Fazlullah agreed to now support the polio vaccination campaign and education for girls, as well as government efforts to establish law and order. He also agreed to wrap up all training facilities for militants and making of weapons, and support the district administration in any operation against anti-state elements.
Maulana Fazlullah, who is also son-in-law of the jailed Maulana Sufi Muhammad, head of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM), and Swat District Coordination Officer Syed Muhammad Javed signed the agreement in the presence of a jirga made up of some 100 local notables and government representatives.
The cleric holds considerable sway over the conservative population of the district and led a campaign denouncing television, music, polio drops, education for firls and women’s empowerment through speeches on his illegal FM station. He has now been allowed to operate the radio station until Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority laws are extended to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas.
“I have signed the agreement for the sake of peace as Islam teaches us peace,” Maulana Fazlullah, 28, said after the signing ceremony in an under-construction mosque at Pam Dheri village in Swat district.
Swat DCO Syed Muhammad Javed said that the agreement was in the interest of both the people and the government. “There was a misunderstanding between the government and the Maulana sahib and today’s agreement has removed this misunderstanding,” he said after the ceremony.
Under the agreement, the government will look for legal ways to withdraw cases against the cleric, who agreed that he would not allow his supporters to be involved in making weapons, running militant training camps in mountains areas of the district, and that he would support the government against militants.
“The Maulana sahib and his supporters will not interfere if the police move against suspicious people in Pam Dheri and other strongholds,” the agreement reads. The cleric would also not hinder the duties of administration officials in Swat, such as the polio vaccination campaign.
The agreement also bars the cleric and his supporters from displaying weapons in public and interfering in government departments’ affairs.