Multimedia presentation of the senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Click to view.
Almost one and a half years after the Pakistani government signed the North Waziristan Accord with the Taliban and the agreement’s subsequent collapse last summer, a new agreement has been inked. The political administration of North Waziristan has agreed to terms with the two major tribes. The Taliban were represented at the negotiations.
“The political administration of North Waziristan and all sub-tribes and clans of Wazir and Daur tribes have agreed to jointly struggle against extremism and terrorism throughout the agency,” a press release from the Northwest Frontier Province’s Governor’s House stated. But the Daily Times reported the terms of the agreement were vague.
The Northwest Frontier Province’s Governor’s office released a “blurred four-and-a-half line press release” that “gave no details of the agreement,” the Daily Times reported. There was no mention of the Taliban or al Qaeda sheltering in the region, no mention of training camps, and no mention of the obligations of the tribes to oppose the presence of the Taliban and al Qaeda or a punishment for doing so.
While the government has touted the new deal is between the local administration and over more than 280 local tribal representatives and not the Taliban, the Taliban was indeed represented at the meeting. Agents of Hafiz Gul Bahadar, a Taliban commander based out of Miramshah, were present at the signing of the agreement, Dawn reported. Bahadar has backed the new agreement.
The likelihood is other Taliban and al Qaeda commanders were either present or represented at the latest incarnation of the North Waziristan Accord. Senior Taliban commanders Maulana Sadiq Noor and Bahadar were present at the 2006 signing of the North Waziristan accord, as well as Taliban sub-commanders Azad Khan, Maulvi Saifullah, Maulvi Ahmad Shah Jehan, Azmat Ali, Hafiz Amir Hamza, and Mir Sharaf. Afghan Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani and Tahir Yuldashev, the commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, were also reported to have been present at the 2006 signing.
The Pakistani government’s claim the new peace accord is with the tribes, and not the Taliban, rings hollow, as Bahadar’s representation at the meeting proves this is not true. In 2006, the Pakistani government insisted the peace agreement was between the tribes, and not the Taliban, just as the government is doing today.
Meanwhile, the latest agreement fails to define the nature of “extremism” and “terrorism” and has no apparent enforcement mechanism. The government has not insisted the Taliban and al Qaeda leaders be arrested or driven out from the tribal regions. There is no obligation for the terror training camps to be shut down. There is no demand that the Taliban stop sorties into Afghanistan to attack NATO and Afghan forces. A shadow Taliban government — including recruiting offices, taxes, courts, and security forces — remain in place.
Instead, the government has agreed to release jailed “tribesmen” and has removed the Army from the region. Security at the checkpoints has been turned over to the Khasadars, a poorly armed, “ragtag tribal police.” Local residents told Dawn that “militants continue to patrol the streets, though without challenging the government authority.” The government will also reimburse the “tribes” for damaged caused to property during fighting.
The government has essentially revived the same terms of the 2006 North Waziristan Accord, minus the demands for the tribes to oppose the Taliban and al Qaeda.
See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan: An Online History for more information on the rise of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and the peace agreements signed between the government and the Taliban.