Taliban militants are pulling out of a Pakistan district they had seized, just 100 kilometers west of the capital of Islamabad. This came after the government warned it would use force to evict them.
Dozens of Taliban militants emerged on Friday from a high-walled villa in Buner, a rural area to the west of Pakistan's capital of Islamabad. TV images showed the militants' withdrawal from Buner and heading to the militant-held Swat Valley near the Afghan border.
According to a local government administrator in the region, the militants' withdrawal from Buner was due to Friday's mediation by a hard-line cleric. The Taliban were persuaded to return to the Swat area in the northwestern part of Pakistan.
The government agreed in February to impose Islamic law in Swat and its surrounding areas in return for a cease-fire. This halted nearly two years of bloody fighting between militants and Pakistani security forces.
But hard-liners have seized on the concession to demand Islamic law across all of Pakistan. The Swat Taliban used it to justify their push into Buner. The move put them within striking distance of the capital and key roads leading to the main northwestern city of Peshawar.
The Pakistani army, under intense international scrutiny, issued an unusually tough statement on Friday. On the same day, Pakistan's Prime Minister told lawmakers in the National Assembly that the government would take action if militants challenged the writ of the state.
Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistani Prime Minister said "They (Pakistan Army) will support the provincial and the federal government and wherever action is required they will do it."
The tough stance has produced a tentative result. The Taliban has pulled back from Buner, before that resolve was put to the test.
(CCTV April 25, 2009)