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Pakistani Regional Leader Urges Peace In Waziristan At Summit

Hundreds of Pashto scholars, writers, and poets from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries gathered in Pakistan's northern city of Peshawar on April 29 for a two-day peace conference, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The conference, inaugurated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province Chief Minister
Amir Haidar Khan Hoti, is organized by the World Pashto Congress.

In his opening address, Hoti said there is still time for leaders to bring the situation in the northwestern Waziristan region -- which has been the scene of deadly violence in recent years -- under control.

If they fail, he said, the flames raging in Waziristan will spread to the rest of Pakistan. "The trouble appeared in Waziristan after the 9/11 [terrorist attacks against the United States]. If it had been brought under control at that time we would not witness the destruction that we are witnessing today," Hoti said.

Referring to the presence of militants in Waziristan and other tribal areas, Hoti said mistakes committed in the past can cause colossal harm if repeated in the future.

"On this occasion, the Pashtuns would like to give a message to Pakistan's [rulers] not to repeat the past mistakes [in Waziristan]. If they think the flames of the fire will be restricted to the KP, they are wrong, as they would not stop here," Hoti said.

Peshawar's Nishtar Hall, where the conference is taking place, was closed to cultural activities during the government of the Muttahidda Majlis-e-Amal religious alliance.

But it was reopened to the public by the present government in 2008 for concerts, theater performances, and poetry competitions.