Pakistan is negotiating a new peace agreement with Baitullah Mehsud


Baitullah.jpg

Baitullah Mehsud from a recent Taliban video.

Just two days after signing a peace agreement with the Taliban in the northern region of the Northwest Frontier Province, the Pakistani government is negotiating with the Taliban in Waziristan, the heart of al Qaeda country.

The Pakistani government is currently in negotiations with Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an umbrella group that united local Taliban groups in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. Baitullah is behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan People's Party.

The provincial government, run by the newly elected Awami National Party, is looking to strike its second major peace agreement with the Taliban this week. "We are moving on all fronts and making progress," Owais Ghani, the Governor of the Northwest Frontier Province said after confirming negotiations were underway. On April 21, the provincial government signed a peace accord with the outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi (the TNSM, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law) in the Malakand Division.

The provincial government is working on a 15-point peace agreement, Dawn revealed. In the latest draft of the peace agreement, the Taliban cannot sanction terrorist from operating on its territory and must eject foreigner terrorists from its midst. The Taliban cannot attack government or military personnel and must give freedom of movement to aid workers. The Taliban is also prevented from establishing a parallel political administration.

The government would free Taliban prisoners and withdraw the Army from the region. Disputes would be resolved by the local political administration, and the government has the right to take action if the Taliban violates the agreement.

Baitullah Mehsud orders a cease-fire

The negotiations appear to be progressing as Baitullah has ordered a cease-fire. Pamphlets were distributed ordering his followers to halt attacks in Waziristan, Tank, Gomal, and Dera Ismail Khan. "The pamphlets read that the Taliban should stop provocative activities against the government in an effort to bring peace," the Daily Times reported.

Baitullah threatened to ruthlessly enforce his edict. "Those failing to abide by the orders will be hanged upside down in bazaars," the pamphlet stated.

Draft peace agreement is similar to 2006 Waziristan Accord

The latest peace agreement reads much like the failed 2006 Waziristan Accord, an agreement hailed as the solution to militancy in Pakistan's tribal areas. The 2006 South Waziristan Accord required the Taliban to eject foreign terrorists and deny them sanctuary and to halt attacks against the government and military. The Taliban were also prevented from establishing a parallel government.

But the Taliban established the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan and subsequently violated each of the Accord's conditions. The Taliban immediately began assassinating their rivals under the guise of calling them "US spies." The Taliban established a parallel government complete with sharia courts, taxation, recruiting offices, and its own police forces. The Taliban attacked government forces and captured entire units. Within one year, the Taliban and the government were fighting pitched battles.

The Taliban expanded its power base into Tank and Dera Ismail Khan and threatened Peshawar. Al Qaeda remained in the region and built 29 training cams in North and South Waziristan. Numerous terror plots against the West were traced back to camps in Waziristan.

A summary of the draft peace agreement, according to Dawn

• The Taliban will expel "foreign militants" within one month

• The Taliban will ensure that terrorist activities will not occur inside Pakistan

• The Taliban will not allow their lands to be used for anti-state activities

• The Taliban will not target the government or security forces

• The Taliban will not damage equipment or property belonging to the government and the military

• The Taliban will not kidnap military or government officials

• The Taliban will not attack foreign or local workers participating in aid projects

• The Frontier Corps will maintain access to roadways

• The Taliban will not create a shadow government or institutions

• The Taliban will not interfere with development and humanitarian projects

• The political administration will verify any violations of the agreement

• Problems will be resolved through the local political administration

• The government maintains the right to act if the agreement is violated

• Both sides will exchange hostages and prisoners after the agreement is signed

• The Pakistani Army will be withdrawn from the region.

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.



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READER COMMENTS: "Pakistan is negotiating a new peace agreement with Baitullah Mehsud"

Posted by Gringo at April 24, 2008 12:13 PM ET:

This "agreement" will end up the same way the previous "agreement" did. The Taliban will violate it left and right. The Pakistani government will look the other way.

Posted by Adrian at April 24, 2008 12:39 PM ET:

why wont this work... we have to assume that peace will work. the most important thing is that these tribes stop helping al qaeda

Posted by Marlin at April 24, 2008 1:39 PM ET:

I realize that Afghanistan's Nuristan Province is not directly across the border from Pakistan's Waziristan, but I have to wonder how much, if at all, the building of these Combat Outposts directly on the border influences these negotiations between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban.

Building a combat outpost from scratch on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan means flying everything in by helicopter.

For the troops of Task Force Saber, here in northeastern Afghanistan, the process starts at night as two CH-47 Chinooks drop them and their equipment on a small knoll overlooking a thin, gray ribbon of a river 2,000 feet below.

A few dozen soldiers get off the birds. For the next three days or so, their job will be to carve a small fortress out of the hard-packed stony earth of the mountain, less than a kilometer from the border with Pakistan. The purpose of the outpost is to guard a key bridge and help Afghan security forces re-establish control of a border crossing.

Stars & Stripes: Soldiers in Afghanistan settle in at 6,000 feet

Posted by Neo at April 24, 2008 5:17 PM ET:

Lisa,

If by some miracle this agreement actually gets the Taliban and Al Quada to lay down their arms I'll personally eat my entire wardrobe, including belt buckles, wallet, soles of shoes. The heavy winter clothing will be a challenge. I'll even throw in the old clothing that no longer fits, the rags under the kitchen sink, and the old shop rags out in the garage. I'll post on Youtube.

Posted by Thanos at April 25, 2008 8:08 AM ET:

While they are trying to cut the deal with Baitullah, the NWFP peace has already been broken by the Taliban.

http://noblesseoblige.org/wordpress/?p=2188

Posted by Marlin at April 25, 2008 1:38 PM ET:

Thanos -

I realize I probably read Syed Saleem Shahzad too much, but he makes a case that the Taliban were just recently betrayed in the Khyber Agency when the CIA paid off their local champion and in turn he betrayed their fighters. He believes the Taliban does not want to see the Pakistani government netgotiating with tribes because with established relationships it will make it easier for the government to get these tribal leaders to also betray them later. A very interesting read.

The Torkham success was followed by a number of smaller attacks, and the Taliban's plan appeared to be going better than they could have expected.

Then came this week's incident in which the Taliban seized two members of the World Food Program (WFP) in Khyber Agency, and it became obvious the Taliban had been betrayed, and all for the princely sum of about US$150,000.

Their Khyber dreams are now in tatters.

[...]

In the broader context, Namdar's betrayal vividly illustrates the dangers of traitors within the ranks of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The fear is that the various peace deals being signed now between the Islamabad government and selected tribal leaders could lead to a whole new batch of betrayals.

The conclusion, therefore, is to go all-out to stop the government's dialogue process with militants and tribals.

Asia Times: Taliban bitten by a snake in the grass

Posted by MataHarley at April 25, 2008 7:58 PM ET:

Interesting that the PPP led gov't decides to negotiate with Mehsud... especially in light of his undeniable connection with the death of their beloved Benazir.

Some must learn their lessons the hard way. As Gringo points out, the truce worked out between Musharraf's govt and Mehsud did not work. It will be no different now.

Posted by Eugene at April 25, 2008 10:16 PM ET:

Pakistan privately says that they have stalled too long extending the writ of Pak law to FATA. The military established a dominent position in Swat and in South Waziristan (Mahsuds) this winter only to be directed to give it up to the Sharia law partisans, Taliban, al-Qaida and TNSM, by the politicians. They lost thousands of soldiers to do this. Now, it'll take thousands more to reestablish what they had previously won.

The Pak military had very mixed results in the fighting. The cumbersom military chain of command, the chief of Staff insists on make all decisions down to the movement of a platoon, has been unable to adapt to war in the mountains. On the other hand, Pak special forces have done good work without the massive casualties the regular infantry sustained.

However, the problem for the government, whomever is running it, is a schizophrenic view of the conflict. The people and press sympathize with the Taliban and the TNSM...why? God only knows except it has to do with hatred of India and the West. This sympathy extends to the lowest levels of the Army and is related to the psychological conditioning and indoctrination of the sowars for war with India. Yet the in-the-know leaders understand that Pakistan is on the verge of being forced by a small minority to become "Talibanistan." As such, the Army needs to be restructured; the soldiers redoctrinated.

They have a very small window to do this. Noone is going to put up with Pakistan openly being a terrorist State supporter (any more than they already are). However, it may take 28 NATO nations, India, China (the planned olympic attacks come out of Pakistan according to the media) to bring such charges before the UN before the secular majority in Pakistan takes the task of ousting the extremists seriously.