Pakistan Near Ceasefire Deal With Militants

Leader linked to Bhutto murder calls off attacks amid peace talks
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2008 2:33 PM CDT
Pakistani police commandos guard an armored vehicle, transporting suspect Aitezaz Shah, a teenager allegedly involved in the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, as he his brought...   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
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(Newser) – Pakistan’s new government is near a ceasefire deal with militants, the New York Times reports, as a top rebel commander has ordered his forces to stop attacks. Baitullah Mehsud, thought to have organized the December assassination of Benazir Bhutto, ordered a ban on “provocative activities for the sake of peace," in leaflets distributed in the Afghan border region, Reuters notes.

Critics charge that this is an old tactic: Mehsud’s forces will play along with the peace process while building their military strength. But officials from Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party ask for confidence: "It'll take time, they must trust us," said one minister. The proposed deal, the Times reports, would stop militant activity in exchange for Pakistani troops' withdrawal from certain tribal areas.