Pakistan has agreed to impose strict Islamic law in parts of the northwest, in a deal with Taliban militants.
The government of North West Frontier Province signed the agreement
with Taliban-linked militants in Peshawar Monday. It covers Pakistan's
Malakand region, which includes Swat valley - once a tourist haven and
now almost entirely controlled by the Taliban.
Provincial Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti says Pakistan's federal
government and President Asif Ali Zardari have approved the deal.
On Sunday, militants announced a 10-day cease-fire in Swat, and
released a Chinese engineer from captivity as a goodwill gesture.
Pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah has been waging a violent campaign to impose Islamic law in the region since 2007.
News of the deal came as several missiles were fired from a suspected U.S. drone (pilotless aircraft) at
a building used by Taliban militants in Pakistan's Kurram tribal
region, killing at least 26 people. It is the first known missile
strike in Kurram.
Separately, a Pakistani rebel group that claims to be holding an
American U.N. official said Monday it has extended a deadline to
negotiate for his release.
John Solecki, a U.N. refugee agency official, was seized in
southwestern Pakistan two weeks ago. On Friday, militants threatened to
kill Solecki within 72 hours.
His kidnappers say they are from a previously unknown group, the Baluchistan Liberation United Front.
Militants have demanded the release of 141 ethnic Baluch women
allegedly held in Pakistan. But Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief
Rehman Malik says he is not aware the women are detained.