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Pakistan Releases Top pro-Taliban Militant From Prison

Pakistan's new government has released an ailing top pro-Taliban militant involved in an insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, after more than six years imprisonment.

Sufi Muhammad - head of the banned "Movement for the Enforcement of Sharia Law" - was freed Monday under a peace agreement with tribal elders in northwestern Pakistan.

His release and the subsequent peace deal are seen as part of efforts by the new government to engage militants in dialogue and to mark a break from President Pervez Musharraf's policy of using force.

Sufi Muhammad led thousands of militants into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban against the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, which ended Taliban rule. He was arrested in 2002 when he returned to Pakistan.

Muhammad is the father-in-law of hard-line cleric leader Mullah Fazlullah, who has called for a holy war against the Pakistani government.

Last year, government security forces pushed Fazlullah's militants out of Swat Valley in North West Frontier Province. He remains at large.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.