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Pakistan-Taliban deal: Islamic law for peace in Swat Valley

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Months of fighting in Pakistan's Swat Valley region appear to be near an end as the Pakistani government agreed Monday to accept Islamic law and suspend its military campaign against Taliban-linked militants in the region.

The move came after the militants announced a 10-day cease-fire Sunday in anticipation of a peace deal. The Associated Press reports that it includes the enforcement of sharia, or Islamic law, in the region, which was once a tourist haven and home to Pakistan's only ski resort. Critics say the deal is a concession to the militants and a dangerous precedent for Pakistan's civilian government to set. Others call it a fait accompli in a region already controlled by the Taliban and long weighed down by an inefficient colonial-era court system.

Pakistan's daily newspaper Dawn reports that in addition to the cease-fire, militants released Long Xiaowe, a Chinese engineer held for nearly six months, as a "goodwill gesture." Other sources told the paper he was released after "payment of a huge amount of money as ransom," which was denied by the Taliban.

Negotiations have involved the government of Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari and two militant groups connected by both ideology and genealogy, reports Outlook India.

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