Inquiry opened against Sufi Mohammad


Sufi Muhammad

The federal government has set up an investigation team to probe the activities and role of the cleric for over the past two years and later he will be formally charged, NWFP law minister Aarshad Abdullah was quoted as saying by TV channels.

Mohammad was arrested along with his three sons from the outskirts of the provincial capital of
Peshawar on Sunday after he chaired a meeting of his banned group.

The firebrand cleric was keeping a low-profile after a controversial deal which he brokered for imposition of Sharia law in Swat between the NWFP Government and Taliban collapsed in May.

The agreement was rejected as Taliban from Swat took advantage of the pact to extend their influence to the nearby Buner and Dir districts and forced closure of girls’ schools and public beheadings.

The NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said Sufi's activities indicated that he still has close ties with Taliban and he did not heed the advice to stop his actions and instead showed interest in killing of people.

Mohammad was released after serving a six-year term in prison for sending thousands of youths from NWFP to fight in

The cleric's role came into question when armed Taliban militia men advanced from Swat into the adjoining Buner district bringing them as close as 60 kms from
Islamabad, which led to Pakistani army launching a major offensive to flush them out under US and western influence.

Mohammad's arrest comes even as Pakistani army has so far failed to apprehend or kill any of the top Taliban leaders in Swat, Buner and Dir.

Though the officials claimed that Swat commander Fazlullah was injured, a Taliban spokesman denied the charge.
Pakistan has announced a reward of more than USD 615,000 for his capture dead or alive.

Similar awards have been put on the heads of 15 other top Taliban commanders, but despite three months of military campaign Pakistani forces are yet to capture any of them.

The information minister said Sufi Mohammad was trying to return to Malakand, which would have disturbed law and order in the restive region.

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