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Anti-US cleric Sufi Muhammad, arrested in 2009 for aiding terrorism, granted bail in Pakistan

Peshawar: A Pakistani court granted bail to Maulana Sufi Muhammad, an anti-US cleric and the father-in-law of Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, eight years after he was arrested on charges of sedition and terrorism.

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) granted bail to 84-year-old Muhammad, the chief of banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), due to his old age and poor health.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The court granted him bail less than a week after the Trump administration suspended about $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens.

Vying for implementation of Sharia Law in Pakistan, TNSM was declared a terrorist outfit and banned in 2002. It operates mainly in the Dir region, Swat and Malakand districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Muhammad was arrested in 2009 by the Pakistan Army during the 'Operation Black Thunderstorm' military operation in Swat
against the Taliban. He was arrested along with two aides for inciting violence and committing terrorism. He was charged with sedition, aiding terrorism and conspiracy.

He was accused of sending thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight against the US-led international forces seeking to topple the Taliban regime.

The court ordered the release of Muhammad, who is currently hospitalised, against two surety bonds of Rs 700,000 each. His arrest came following a peace deal between the then PPP government and TNSM. Under the deal, the then President Asif Ali Zardari had signed the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation law for Swat, paving way for the implementation of Sharia law in the Malakand region on 19 April, 2009.

In January 2011, Muhammad denied to an anti-terrorism court that he had any links to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and that he only sought enforcement of Sharia in Malakand.

Updated Date: Jan 09, 2018 09:22 AM

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