Pakistan Nears Peace Deal With Militants
Suspected Bhutto assassin said to have called off his fighters
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2008 5:37 AM CDT
Nawaz Sharif, right, escorts Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 16, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The new government of Pakistan is close to brokering a deal that will end hostilities with the most militant tribes in the country's dangerous northwest. A draft of the peace agreement calls for an end to violence, a prisoner exchange, and a gradual withdrawal of the Pakistani military from part of South Waziristan, reports the New York Times. It marks a break with the hardline approach favored by President Pervez Musharraf and the US.

Baitullah Mehsud, the insurgent leader accused of masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, as well as many suicide attacks in Afghanistan, is said to have already ordered his fighters to end their operations in the tribal areas. The peace agreement has been greeted with skepticism by American and Afghan officials, who blame earlier accords for allowing the Taliban and al Qaeda to reorganize in Pakistan.