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Has Pakistan Made Another Terrorist Deal?

From Pakistan’s Daily Times:

Pakistani soldiers patrol the Pina Sooka area after an air strike by U.S. forces in the Mohamand region at the Pakistan-Afghan border June 11, 2008. Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the United States over an “unprovoked and cowardly” air strike by U.S. forces in Afghanistan that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers at a border post.

Govt includes media gag in North Waziristan accord

Sunday, June 08, 2008

PESHAWAR: The government has attempted to maintain secrecy on the peace accord it signed with the Utmanzai tribes in North Waziristan by incorporating a clause declaring that sharing the agreement’s contents with the media violates the terms laid down in the document.

In a copy of the agreement made available to Daily Times, Al Qaeda-linked militants have been allowed to live in North Waziristan as long as they pledge to remain peaceful. However, a basic demand of the accord is that all foreigners leave the area. The agreement, inked between the government and the Utmanzai tribes on February 17 to fight Taliban-linked militancy through support from the local population, states that no parallel government of suspected Taliban militants would be tolerated. The Utmanzai tribes have also agreed that there would be no attacks on security personnel or government employees and no target killings would be initiated.

However, suspected Taliban militants continue to blow up CD shops in Miranshah and target killings have continued despite the February 17 peace deal. Under the peace accord, any violator would have to pay a fine of Rs 50 million. Sharing contents of the accord with the media has also been interpreted as violation of the accord.

And here is an editorial on the same subject from today’s edition of the Daily Times:

Editorial: Is there a peace deal with terrorists or not?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The scrapping of the peace deal in Swat by the government in Islamabad once again points a shaky finger at the 500-pound gorilla in the drawing room which is being ignored because we are busy discussing “revolutions” and “constitutional packages”. And the gorilla in the shape of Talibanisation is sucking up all the oxygen, knowing that we will blame the resultant asphyxiation of the country on the wrong quarters. The adviser for Interior, Mr Rehman Malik, says the peace deal with the Taliban is off because the Taliban attacks on the security forces have continued in breach of the peace document signed by them.

Mr Malik is also shocked by the capture this week of madrassa-educated youths with vehicles filled with enough explosives to blow up an entire sector in Islamabad. The attacks near Peshawar which killed four policemen too were also mentioned by him as a breach of the agreement. He could have added another move of the Taliban to cleanse Nowshehra of all entertainment shops — and Nowshehra is right next to Peshawar — flouting the writ of the state as well as the text of the Swat agreement. This statement by Mr Rehman means that the war in Swat is on again and the peace agreement was merely a breather obtained by the Taliban for regrouping.

Unfortunately some lack of coordination is evident between Islamabad and Peshawar on the issue. The ANP-led government in the NWFP has denied that its deal with the Taliban is off and has complained that Mr Malik announced the end of the deal without consulting the chief minister, Mr Amir Haider Hoti. Apparently the Peshawar government is not too worried about the increasing siege of Peshawar, with warlord Mangal Bagh pushing in from Khyber and warlord Fazlullah reviving his jihad in the Malakand division. Because of this difference of opinion, the NWFP government continues to release the arrested Taliban on bail. One can be sure that after being released on bail the terrorists are never going to appear in court again. As we have seen in Karachi in the past, acts of terror tend to increase after such hard core terrorists are released on bail.

If you look at the text of the peace deal, the breach is not from the government. The peace document is surprisingly tilted heavily in favour of the government. There is no undertaking for the quick withdrawal of force — the withdrawal is to be gradual — while the Taliban are committed to the following articles: “The Taliban would recognise the writ of the government and cooperate with security forces; the Taliban would halt attacks on barber and music shops; the Taliban cannot display weapons in public; the Taliban would turn in heavy weapons (rockets, mortars); the Taliban cannot operate training camps; the Taliban would denounce suicide attacks; a ban would be placed on raising private militias; the Taliban will cooperate with the government to vaccinate children against diseases like polio; and that the Taliban would allow women to perform their duties at the work place without any fear”.

The media and a clutch of opposition parties are focusing on the judges’ restoration while the Taliban are getting ready to attack again and parliament is girding up to tackle an intractable budget and an equally intractable over-80 proposed amendments to the Constitution. While Maulana Umar of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announces that Mr Rehman’s denunciation of peace in Swat will be avenged with more attacks in Islamabad and Punjab, lawyers from 130 district bars of Pakistan are converging on Islamabad to gherao parliament.

The economy is going down because of lack of security, in other words, lack of the writ of the state. In a perverse sort of way, if politicians ignore the threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda they may get security free of charge. Elements of the nation seem agreed that any operation against the Taliban is not Pakistan’s war, but the truth is that Pakistan is fast losing its essential characteristics as a state. If the territory under state sovereignty was 50 percent ten years ago, today it may be less than 30 percent. The Tribal Areas, parts of the NWFP and Balochistan and the Katcha of River Indus are now slipping out of state control. The only problem crying out for a national consensus is that of law and order and internal sovereignty of the state. The rest, objectively speaking, may be relevant in the long term but is a severe distraction right now.

Such a deal would not be at all surprising, especially in view of the recent elections.

If these reports are true, perhaps the latest attacks by US forces in Pakistan were meant as a signal.

Who knows?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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