POLITICS

Pakistan, Taliban Deal A "Victory For bin Laden And al Qaeda": US Officials

ABC News reports that some U.S. officials are calling the new peace deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban militants a "victory for Osama bin Laden and al Qaida":

Pakistan's new government has signed a peace deal with pro-Taliban militants, in what some U.S. officials call a "victory for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda."

Under the terms of the 15-point plan, signed Wednesday in the city of Peshawar, the Pakistani army will withdraw thousands of troops deployed to the Swat Valley region, an area where officials believe local Taliban militants are hiding. The militants have promised to stop suicide bomb attacks and hand over any foreign militants, according to Bashir Bilour, a senior minister of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

"While the deal sounds good, it's likely to be implemented badly," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counterterrorism chief. "What this means is that the United States will continue to be threatened by an al Qaeda that has a safe haven where it can attract people from around the world, be trained and equipped and sent out to the United States and other countries around the world."

A Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, told ABCNews.com, "We accept the writ of the state and will no longer challenge it."

This peace agreement comes only three days after a suicide bomber killed at least 13 people in the northwestern Pakistani city of Mardan, an area "which has experienced several attacks blamed on pro-Taliban Islamist militants in recent months."