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Pakistan continues peace efforts with Taliban

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Pakistan's new government finalized another controversial peace deal with Islamic militants in the country's border region this week. It's the latest in a series of efforts to secure promises from militants to stop cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, something that has prompted heightened concerns from US officials.

The news comes as Agence France-Presse, citing Afghan intelligence reports, reiterated this week that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan.

Last week, Pakistan's government agreed to a deal with Taliban militants in the Swat Valley in one of its first policy initiatives since coming to power in February.

According to The New York Times, militants in Swat agreed to a cease-fire on the controversial conditions that the new provincial government introduce sharia, or Islamic law, and that the Pakistani military gradually withdraw the 20,000 troops it has in the area.

The senior minister of the [North West Frontier] province, Basher Ahmad Bilour, said that under the terms of the accord, the branch, called the Taliban in Swat, pledged not to attack the security forces.
But it was not clear from the announcement how the deal would be enforced. Nor was it clear what success the authorities would have in separating out what they called hard-line jihadists from other areas.

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