New Bajaur peace deal identical to failed 2007 agreement
The Pakistani government and one of the three major tribes in the Bajaur tribal agency have signed a 28-point peace agreement to end the Taliban insurgency in the tribal area. The agreement mirrors a deal reached in 2007 that failed to quell the Taliban insurgency and helped the group solidify control in Bajaur.
The peace agreement was signed by tribal elders from the Mamond and three sub-tribes, and representatives of the provincial government of the Northwest Frontier Province. The agreement was signed just weeks after the Pakistani military claimed the Taliban were defeated in Bajaur. The military said the eight-month-long operation in Bajaur had resulted in the expulsion of the Taliban and forced them to come to terms.
The agreement calls for the Taliban to end fighting, lay down weapons, and surrender its senior leaders, including Faqir Mohammed, who would later be pardoned. The tribes are obligated to stop al Qaeda from sheltering in the region, close training camps, and halt cross-border movements by the Taliban and al Qaeda. The main points of the deal are:
• All Taliban groups are to be abolished.
• Taliban members are to surrender to their tribes, who will ensure they will not continue fighting.
• The tribes would surrender Bajaur Taliban leader Faqir Mohammad, his spokesman Muslim Khan, and three other leaders to the government, which would then pardon them and allow them "to live peacefully if they promised not to fight government forces."
• The Taliban fighters are to lay down their weapons.
• The Taliban must end attacks on government forces and installations.
• No parallel governments are to be established.
• The Taliban must recognize and abide by the writ of the government.
• No "foreign elements" would be allowed to shelter in the tribal areas. Tribesmen may not rent homes or compounds to foreigners.
• The Bajaur tribal areas cannot be used "for sabotage activities."
• The Taliban cannot establish training camps.
• The tribes must prevent all cross-border movement into Pakistan.
• The tribes must not allow the Taliban to engage in "interference with the affairs of other countries."
• Security forces and government officials have the right to move in the region and may retaliate if attacked.
• Security forces and the government will not tolerate anti-government propaganda.
• All Islamic seminaries must be registered with the government.
• Security would be provided to foreign contractors.
In the past, Mamond tribal leaders have promised to stop supporting the Taliban, but the tribe is known to have close ties with the group as well as with al Qaeda. The tribe has dug its feet in over the past year, resisting government calls to end support for the Taliban.
The current agreement is nearly identical to an agreement proposed in October of 2006 and signed in March 2007. The Taliban used the 2007 agreement to consolidate its power and establish a parallel government that meted out punishments under sharia, or Islamic law; collected taxes; recruited and trained fighters; and established terror training camps.
During that time, Bajaur became a command and control center for al Qaeda operations in eastern Afghanistan. Ayman al Zawahiri is known to have sheltered in Bajaur under the care of Faqir Mohammed. At a pro-al Qaeda rally in October 2006, the Bajaur tribes called Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden "heroes of the Muslim world" and vowed to fight the West. A US airstrike in Bajaur in January 2006 targeted a safe house thought to be sheltering Zawahiri and several other senior al Qaeda commanders.
Faqir is also the second in command of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the group founded by South Waziristan leader Baitullah Mehsud.