Pakistan is negotiating the surrender of Bajaur agency to the Taliban and al Qaeda
Protests in Bajaur Agency, Pakistan, after U.S. airstrikes in Damadola in January 2006 . Click image to view.
Just days after the signing of the Waziristan Accord, which ceded administrative and security control of the North Waziristan agency to the Taliban and al Qaeda, we warned that Bajaur agency was next to fall to the Taliban. Several weeks later, UPI confirmed the Pakistani government was seriously considering further negotiations in Bajaur and other agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Ali Jan Orakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province, has been enthusiastic about the prospects of turning over Bajaur and other agencies: “If the treaty signed with tribal elders of North Waziristan proved successful, similar treaties would be signed with tribes in other agencies,” reports the Daily Times
Today, the Gulf Times reports a deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Bajaur is coming – and right soon. “Maulana Faqir Mohamed, once most wanted cleric in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region, and his fellow militants are likely to ink peace accord with the government after Eid al-Fitr, as the government has released all his relatives as a goodwill gesture,” according to the Gulf Times report. These are the nine “al Qaeda suspects” we noted were released in last evening’s report on the Taliban tax in Miramshah. “Besides Faqir Mohamed’s brother (Maulana Gul Mohamed), those released were identified as Bahadur Khan, Habibullah, Bashirullah, Ziaul Haq, Jamal Syed, Nazimeen Khan and as mentioned the two clerics – Dr Ismail and Maulana Inayatur Rahman.”
Maulana Faqir Mohamed isn’t your run-of-the-mill local tribal leader. Faqir Mohamed is the man that hosted the dinner party in Damadola, Bajaur in January of 2006 that the U.S. targeted in a dramatic Predator raid. Faqir Mohamed hosted none other than Dr.Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, along with several other senior al Qaeda and Taliban commanders. Zawahiri escaped the attack in Damadola, but Abu Khabab al-Masri, al Qaeda’s chief bomb maker, chemical weapons expert, training camp commander and head of its WMD program, was killed along with four other senior leaders.
Faqir Mohamed is also a leader of the radical Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia), which the Jamestown Foundation describes as “a religious group that forcibly imposed Islamic religious laws in the Pashtun tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan in the 1990s. Although the Pakistani military later removed most of the parallel courts and administrative units established by the movement, the group continued to run a parallel government for some time.” Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed has sent in numerous jihadis into Afghanistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001.
The release of Faqir’s relatives is seen as a victory for the Taliban. “Maulana Faqir Mohamed’s supporters warmly received their released colleagues and celebrated their release with heavy firing into the air. Members of the tribal ‘jirga’ (council) took them to the village after their release from central prison in Khar, headquarters of Bajaur Agency.”
The Bajaur Accord will very likely mirror that of the Waziristan Accord, where the Pakistani military ceded control of the border crossing point, withdrew to garrison, surrendered control of the policing and administrative functions of government. Attacks in the Afghan border provinces on Paktia, Paktika, and Khost have increased threefold since the signing of the Waziristan Accords, as has the infiltration by al Qaeda and Taliban fighters and suicide bombers.
This occurs in the backdrop of an al Qaeda and Taliban sponsored assassination/coup attempt against President Pervez Musharraf’s government several weeks ago.