Taliban forces agreed to begin a pullback today to their Swat and Northwest Frontier strongholds from the areas they invaded during the past week on the outskirts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Under the deal, officials agreed to allow strict Islamic law to be imposed in Swat and six surrounding districts, including Buner, in exchange for the Taliban fighters laying down their weapons.
Regional officials announced shortly after noon that the militant forces would leave the Buner district by night, and television news channels showed dozens of masked, heavily armed Taliban fighters driving out of Buner's main town in trucks and vans.
Buner is a district just outside of the capitol of Islamabad and one of the areas the Taliban had invaded, and I assume that part or all of Mansehra and Haripur are included as well. So the deal is sharia (and de facto Taliban control and access) in exchange for pulling back the fighters. That's pretty much how the Taliban took over Swat and the NWFP areas in Waziristan.
The army made some serious sounding noises about attacking the Taliban if they refused to pull back, but I personally don't think they had the stomach to fight an Islamist group that a decent portion of the high command sympathize with just to preserve the Zardari government.Nor are they equipped tactically to fight a non-conventional war in the regions in question.
In the mean time, the Taliban has gained an important victory and extended its reach and influence at very little cost. This is definitely not going to end here.