Pakistan: Negotiating with the Taliban, again
NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/ districts openly controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat. Click map to view.
Representatives sent to negotiate with the Taliban in North Waziristan as suicide attacks are ongoing
As the attacks against the Pakistani military are ongoing in North Waziristan, the government continues to press for a "peace deal" with the Taliban. Today, the government of the Northwest Frontier Province dispatched a helicopter filled with local tribal representatives to negotiate with the Taliban. "We are going to Miranshah to discuss the peace accord with Taliban leaders," Malik Waris Khan, a member of the "peace" jirga told the Daily Times. "The jirga left after a meeting with NWFP Governor Ali Jan Aurakzai. Sources said the jirga members were driven to a secret location to meet Maulana Gul Bahadar, a senior Taliban commander."
Maulana Gul Bahadar, a senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan, was a party to signing the Waziristan Accord in September 2006. Jalaluddin Haqqani, military commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Tahir Yuldashev, the commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were also present at the signing. A host of senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders backed the compact known as the Waziristan Accord.
The Waziristan Accord demanded that the Taliban refrain from setting up camps in the tribal agency and setting up a parallel government, eject foreign fighters from the region, and stop cross border attacks into Afghanistan. In exchange, the Pakistani government would pay reparations to the Taliban, return their weapons, refrain from attacking the Taliban, and pull its troops back from the region.
The negotiations in North Waziristan occur against the backdrop of a concerted suicide and military campaign against the Pakistani military. Today, a suicide bomber killed four, including one soldier and three civilians, during a strike on a checkpoint in Miranshah. Three soldiers were wounded. The Taliban also destroyed two more checkpoints in Miranshah.
Over the past week, the Taliban killed 17 troops in an ambush on a Pakistani military convoy, and another 24 paramilitary soldiers were killed and wounded 29 during a suicide attack on a different convoy. North Waziristan has seen a host of suicide bombings, roadside bombings, and mortar, rocket, and small-arms attacks over the past week.
At least 149 Pakistanis have been killed and over 220 wounded in the major attacks nationwide since July 14. The vast majority of those killed are soldiers or police. Suicide attacks and ambushes have been carried out by the Taliban against Pakistani troops and police in Islamabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Hangu, Hub and Swat. While the Pakistani government has attempted to dissociate the spate of attacks with the military assault on the Taliban-supporting Red Mosque in Islamabad, the Taliban is clearly retaliating for the government's actions in Islamabad.
The current negotiations in North Waziristan are frequently referred to as the Pakistani government applying both the carrot and the stick to deal with the Taliban. This depiction is inaccurate, as the current actions of the government can be better described as the carrot and the punching bag. The government sends in negotiators as the military continues to get pummeled by the Taliban and al Qaeda suicide bombers and commando teams.