24 September, 2006

Waziristan Pact

According to the Sunday Telegraph Mullah Omar, the monocular murderer, played a key role in the negotiations leading to the Waziristan Pact.

Tribal elders in south Waziristan said that Mullah Omar had sent one of his most trusted and feared commanders, Mullah Dadullah, to ask local militants to sign the truce. Dadullah, a one-legged fighter known for his fondness for beheading his enemies, is believed to be the man leading the campaign in southern Afghanistan in which 18 British troops have been killed.
Had they been not asked by Mullah Omar, none of them were willing to sign an agreement," said Lateef Afridi, a tribal elder and former national assembly member. "This is no peace agreement, it is accepting Taliban rule in Pakistan's territory."
I am not sure why the Telegraph should be running this item at this particular time, other than it is a quiet news day. It does not take too many grey cells to work out that senior Taliban figures were instrumental in the Pact, which I interpret as essentially a ceasefire between the Pakistan army, and the Taliban and friends.

The important question is whether the tribal leader, quoted above, is right about his assessment of the Pact. I implied in a post yesterday that the Pact is probably in part a sham, masking a surrender by the Pakistani army, and in part a genuine attempt to deal with the Taliban problem. It is a seemingly contradictory stance but the Pakistani government has a dilemma.

On the one hand, the Pakistani army needed a truce because of the casualties they were suffering. To that extent it was a surrender.

On the other hand, the Pakistani government is no supporter of Islamic terrorism, which is a source of domestic destabilisation. Perhaps they thought the best way to deal with the Waziri problem was to leave it to the local tribal chiefs, who have no desire to see a strong Taliban, or any other foreigners, in their territory. The government maybe hopes that the tribal chiefs can hold the line until NATO eventually destroys the Taliban. Interestingly, the Pakistanis have not been too strenuous in their objections to recent US intrusions into Waziri air space. To that extent, it was a genuine attempt to deal with the problem.

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