Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.
A little over one week after the military said it would not conduct operations in North and South Waziristan, the provincial government cut new peace agreements with Taliban leaders in the lawless tribal agencies.
Peace agreements have been signed with Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan. Bahadar controls a significant Taliban force in the Miramshah region, while Nazir controls Taliban forces in the western regions in South Waziristan.
The deals were crafted by Owais Ghani, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. Nazir and Bahadar agreed to stop fighting the Pakistani military and said they would permit tribesmen to “provide shelter to foreigners,” a clear reference to al Qaeda.
“We will not fight the Pakistani forces because by doing so we will be helping the Americans in Afghanistan,” Bahadar said in a press statement issued by a Taliban spokesman. “We will not let the deal collapse,” Bahadar said, referring to an agreement signed with the military in February.
The agreements directly contradict with the government’s conditions for negotiations. The Taliban are required to “to surrender arms unconditionally” and “appear before [the] political administration,” Daily Times reported.
Nazir and Bahadar have not surrendered their weapons, nor have they appeared before the tribal political administration.
The Taliban have blatantly violated similar peace agreements in the past. The Taliban have refused to lay down their weapons and continue to shelter al Qaeda operatives in the tribal regions. The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
Operation in the Waziristans was never in the cards
While fighting has been intense in Swat and Bajaur, the military signaled it had no intentions of taking on the Taliban in North and South Waziristan. On Oct. 8, a senior general reassured “Utmanzai tribal militants” — Bahadar’s tribe — that no operation was planned. Negotiations were also opened with Nazir in South Waziristan.
While Bahadar and Nazir are often described as “pro-government” Taliban leaders as they oppose fighting the Pakistani military and overthrowing the government, both men have extensive ties to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.
Bahadar and Nazir’s forces fight against Afghan and Coalition forces inside Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, in conjunction with Bahadar and Nazir, run terror camps inside their tribal areas. The US has been conducting strikes in Nazir and Bahadar’s tribal regions; the majority of the attacks have occurred in their areas.
On Oct. 16, Bahadar threatened to attack US forces in Afghanistan iattacks in his tribal regions were not halted.
Bahadar was one of the signatories of the Feb. 17 peace agreement that ended clashes in the region. He also signed the Sept. 2006 North Waziristan Accord, along with other senior Taliban leaders. Bahadar has opposed fighting the Pakistani military but sponsors al Qaeda camps and sends fighters into Afghanistan.
Nazir is a rival to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He ejected Uzbeks from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Jihad Union from the Wana region in 2007.
But Nazir openly supports al Qaeda and its leadership and admitted he would provide shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders. “How can I say no to any request from Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar under tribal traditions, if they approach me to get shelter?” Nazir asked the Pakistani press in the spring of 2007. Arab al Qaeda operatives help finance Nazir’s operations.