PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistani authorities announced yesterday that they had struck a truce with a militant faction that moved last year to impose Taliban-style rule in a once-popular tourist area.
The deal between government officials and Islamic militants in the Swat valley could presage broader accords with militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The 15-point pact was signed despite concerns from the United States about such truces.
Pakistan's new coalition government, which took office seven weeks ago after winning parliamentary elections, has said it was willing to talk with extremists who were prepared to renounce violence.
But the Bush administration and NATO say they believe that Islamic militants will use respites to strengthen and rearm themselves and resume attacks when it suits them. They also say militants' cross-border strikes aimed at Western troops in Afghanistan have edged up since negotiations began.
Under the pact, the government appeared to have made key concessions. It agreed to begin pulling back troops, provided that attacks against the military cease. The government suggested that the militants' leader, charismatic cleric Maulana Qazi Fazlullah - who was previously one of the country's most wanted men - would not be actively pursued.
It also agreed that the Swat valley would come under a system of Sharia, or Islamic law, with Islamic clerics and scholars advising civil judges.
In return, the militants softened some harsher measures they had taken to enforce their stringent form of Islam. They agreed to stop their campaign against polio vaccinations, which they denounced as a Western plot, and girls' schooling. They also promised to stop terrorizing barbers who shaved men's beards and blowing up music and video stores.
Fazlullah's followers also pledged not to display weapons in public. The group's former heavily fortified headquarters is to be turned into a university.
The militants agreed to hand over any "foreign" fighters in the area, the usual term for al-Qaeda-linked militants from Arab or Central Asian countries.
Both sides indicated a prisoner swap would take place soon, but no details were given.