WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House on Wednesday expressed concern with reports that Pakistan's new government is working on a peace accord with militant leaders in its tribal regions.
"We are concerned about it and what we encourage them to do is to continue to fight against the terrorists and to not disrupt any secure military operations that are ongoing in order to prevent a safe haven for terrorists there," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Pakistan's new government -- led by the Pakistan People's Party of slain leader Benazir Bhutto -- is nearing an agreement with the Mehsud tribes of South Waziristan that involves exchanging prisoners and withdrawing Pakistani forces, according to a party spokesman.
Bhutto's party has rejected that assertion, saying it believes Musharraf's government may have orchestrated the attack.
The deal is being negotiated by the Awami National Party -- part of the ruling coalition -- whose power base is in the North West Frontier Province, where South Waziristan is located, the party's leader told CNN.
"Progress is being made through dialogue and shouldn't be seen in a negative light," Awami National Party leader Zahid Khan said. "It should be given a chance."
The reported peace deal may include releasing some suspects tied to Mehsud who are facing trial for Bhutto's assassination.
On Monday, Pakistani authorities released Sufi Mohammed, a pro-Taliban leader who recruited thousands of fighters to battle U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Mohammed was captured in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan in 2002, months after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban rulers there.
Under the terms of his release Mohammed's banned hardline group, Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM), is expected to lay down its arms and forgo violence, according to Sardar Hussain Babek, the information minister for North West Frontier Province.
But Mohammed's son-in-law Fazlullah, who took over TNSM during his jail stint, announced in a radio broadcast Tuesday that he would continue his fight to impose fundamentalist Islamic law in northwest Pakistan, according to local reports.
Musharraf struck peace deals with pro-Taliban tribal leaders in North and South Waziristan in 2006, but they were later rescinded.
A report by the International Crisis Group said Musharraf's 2006 North Waziristan agreement was directly responsible for creating a safe haven for al Qaeda's leadership inside Pakistan. E-mail to a friend
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