The controversial peace deal in Pakistan's Swat valley came virtually unstuck on Monday with authorities threatening to resume military action and heavily armed Taliban militants out on streets defying curfew as their spokesman declared that the pact stands "dissolved".
"Our peace pact agreement with the North West Frontier Province government practically stands dissolved", Taliban spokesman Muslim Khansaid and sought to put the onus on authorities saying "security forces are attacking us".
Authorities imposed a curfew in Swat's main town Mingora as a precautionary measure but eyewitnesses quoted by local TV channels reported that heavily armed Taliban cadres have again started patrolling the main town.
Tensions soared between the government, which is under heavy US pressure to fight the militants and not talk to them and Taliban radicals who rejected the provincial government's move to constitute new Islamic courts saying they were not consulted.
Rising uncertainty over then deal, have raised prospects of Pakistani authorities expanding operations to flush out Taliban from Swat too. Pakistan military had killed over 200 militants in six days of fighting in adjoining Buner and Dir districts.
Militants ambushed an army convoy killing a soldier in a part of Bari Kot region of the Swat valley. The radicals used rockets and assault rifles in the attack, which was repulsed by security forces. "(Security) forces are attacking us and our fighters are also retaliating," Khan told The News daily in the wake of the launch of operations against the Taliban in Dir and Buner districts, which like Swat are part of the Malakand division of the NWFP.
Muslim Khan said the Taliban fighters "would now attack security forces and government figures everywhere." Claiming that Pakistan's rulers were obeying "every directive of US President Barack Obama," he said. "We will also act in other cities of Pakistan but will not target the general public."
The spokesman said the Taliban would not harm members of the Awami National Party, which rules the NWFP, it they support the militants. "But if they sided with the government, they too will become our target. However, our main target will be security forces and the rulers of Pakistan," he warned. He ruled out the involvement of India and Afghanistan in the unrest in Swat and said "no outside elements" were involved in the issue. When Awami National Party spokesman Zahid Khan was asked about the dissolution of the peace agreement in Swat, he said the party had signed the accord with Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi chief Sufi Muhammad and not with the Taliban. He said the Taliban had violated "the accord time and again".