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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 09:38 GMT
Pakistan offers amnesty to militants

Pakistan has offered amnesty to hundreds of detained suspected Islamic militants if they sign pledges to renounce violence and membership of banned organisations.

The amnesty would cover many of those held without charge for almost two months, since the government banned five hard-line Islamic groups, accusing them of inciting sectarian violence.

Those arrests were welcomed at the time by India, which blamed two of the banned groups for the December attack on its parliament.

They were also praised by the United States as a contribution to the war against international terrorism.

Correspondents say the long detention of suspected militants has stretched the limits of Pakistani law.

The government insists that it will not release those already charged with killings and violence.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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