Tribes ‘will not hide militants’

Tribesmen in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan have promised not to shelter foreign militants.The assurance came as part of a deal signed by the government and local tribes in Bajaur agency.

Unlike other controversial deals in the troubled Waziristan region nearby, this deal was with tribesmen not militants.

The government wants tribesmen to stop helping al-Qaeda or Taleban militants. Bajaur saw two major raids on suspected al-Qaeda hideouts last year.

At least 13 people were killed when American forces struck three compounds in January, while an air raid by Pakistani forces on a religious school in October left more then 80 people dead.

Sheltering suspects

More than 500 elders from the Salarzai and Utmankhel tribes were present at the signing ceremony in Bajaur’s main town of Khar.

The government says a similar accord has already been reached with the Mamond, the largest tribe in Bajaur. A local militant leader wanted by the government for sheltering al-Qaeda suspects belongs to the Mamond tribe.

One of Monday’s signatories, tribal elder Malik Abdul Aziz told the BBC the agreement also meant the government was now bound to tell tribal elders before launching any operation in their region.

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