Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah, U.S. State Department endorse the Waziristan Accord
Mullah Dadullah on a tape aired by Al Jazeera.
Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah has spoken out about the “Waziristan Accord.” Dadullah, who was thought to have been captured this summer, explains that the Taliban in Waziristan should be focusing their energy outwards towards Coalition forces in Afghanistan, and pushed for a peace accord with the Pakistani government. President Musharraf is seen as an enemy, however one who can be negotiated with in order to continue the fight in Afghanistan. Dadullah openly threatens violence if Pakistan violates the terms of the agreement. Excerpts are from an article translated from Pakistan daily, The News, portions of which appear in Reuters:
“I told the Pakistani tribal militants that fighting in Waziristan was in the interest of America. My argument was that we should fight the US, UK and armies of other Western countries… As for President General Pervez Musharraf, we know he has been siding with President Bush against fellow Muslims. At the behest of the US, he waged war against the Taliban in Waziristan and is now publicly proposing to Mr Karzai to jointly fight the Taliban and Talibanisation… Violation of the terms of the recent peace agreement in Waziristan would cause problems and destabilize the area…
Dadullah also claims to have about 500 suicide bombers and about 12,000 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan (note that this excludes forces in Pakistan, and the high estimates place the Taliban strength as high as 27,000 in North Waziristan and 13,000 in South Waziristan.) The wealth of suicide bombers in Waziristan is documented by Asia Time’s Ashfaq Yusufzai. While Dadullah is certainly exaggerating, these claims are based on elements of truth, and the Taliban fighting in large formations in southern Afghanistan, the increase in suicide bombings and the establishment of an al Qaeda suicide cell in Kabul demonstrate.
Other Taliban commanders have their own list of fedayeen and it is growing with names of more and more volunteers…We have no shortage of fighters. In fact, we have so many of them that it is difficult to accommodate and arm and equip them. Some of them have been waiting for a year or more for their turn to be sent to the battlefield… Presently, we are focusing on guerrilla attacks. But by spring, we would have sufficient strength to launch even bigger attacks…
As the Taliban flaunt their new-found power in Pakistan, the U.S. Department of State’s press secretary Richard Boucher has inexplicably endorsed the “Waziristan Accord.”
Noting that the [Pakistani] government had carved out a new strategy to deal with the cross-border activities of Taliban and Al Qaeda sympathisers, Mr Boucher said: “The agreement really has the potential to work.” He said he believed the deal created an opportunity for local leaders to get hold of the problem of terrorism and it could enable the government “to get a political handle on this and enlist its citizens in the fight against terror”. The US, he said, understood that to effectively control the Afghan border, Pakistan needed “cooperation from local tribes and they are really trying to get in.” Mr Boucher said the US hoped that the agreement would leave a positive impact on the situation in the regions that are run by local tribal chiefs since the British days. “Instead of challenging the tribal chiefs, Pakistan has signed an agreement with them and we believe that it is a good effort,” he said. The official said the agreement would allow the local administration and the tribal chiefs to play a positive role in the development of their areas and also in restoring peace and security to the region. The agreement, he said, would restrict the movement of Taliban and would not permit the presence of Al Qaeda and its sympathisers in the tribal belt. “Talibanisation will not be allowed, in the area or in the cities near the tribal region,” he said. Mr Boucher said the government had made the tribal chiefs accept all these conditions before signing the agreement
Mr. Boucher has chosen to echo the Pakistani party line of Major General Shaukat Sultan, a government spokesman, and Northwest Frontier Province Governor Lt Gen. Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, who has essentially thrown in his lot with the Islamists. Mr Boucher’s second to last statement, “Talibanisation will not be allowed, in the area or in the cities near the tribal region,” is absurd on its face, as the recent release of over 2,500 Taliban and al Qaeda, and their subsequent return to Wazriristan demonstrates. The Taliban has repeatedly violated the terms of the truce – only Pakistani government violations will lead to instability. Dadullah is clear the Afghan insurgency is being driven from safe havens in western Pakistan. And the Taliban’s role in dictating the terms of the truce are clear.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross postulates “The view of Boucher and other officials who refuse to publicly condemn the developments in Pakistan is that, bad as Musharraf has been of late, things would be far worse if he lost power. In a critical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, it would be disastrous if a pro-Western military dictator were replaced by al Qaeda-linked fundamentalists.” This is true, but the policy is short sighted. When the next major al Qaeda attack against the West is traced back to Waziristan, there will be hell to pay.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.