The Taliban’s Waziristan Accord

The Pakistani Press exposes the Waziristan Accord as an agreement between the government and the Taliban

“Rebel” tribal elder Maulvi Abbas Khan (right) presenting a copy of the Quran to Pakistan Army Commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain in Shakai near Wana, South Waziristan. Photo from 2004. Click image to view.

While Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and a host of government functionaries continue to claim the Waziristan Accord was an agreement with the tribes that will further peace in the tribal regions, the Pakistani press continually refutes the government line. Dawn, the Pakistani newspaper that provided the details of the Waziristan Accord, digs deeper and discovers the agreement was indeed between the Taliban and the government. The tribes were essentially sidelined.

The deal was signed with militants and not with tribal elders, as is being officially claimed. The signatories are the two principal parties to the conflict: (a) the administrator of North Waziristan as the government representative, and (b) militants and clerics who until September 5 were on the wanted list. Among them are Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Maulana Sadiq Noor, Azad Khan, Maulvi Saifullah, Maulvi Ahmad Shah Jehan, Azmat Ali, Hafiz Amir Hamza and Mir Sharaf.

The first two in the list are top militant [or Taliban] clerics and the remaining six were nominated by them to co-sign the agreement, sources say, adding that they were all pardoned by the government subsequent to the deal. The agreement identifies them as ‘fareeq-e-doum’ (second party). As the names indicate, no tribal elder from the Utmanzai tribe was among the signatories, as claimed by the government. The 45-member inter-tribal jirga handpicked and nominated by Governor Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai countersigned the document as the interlocutors. Period.

Governor Jan Aurakzai [or Orakzai] is a known Taliban sympathizer and is a proponent of expanding the terms of the Waziristan Accord throughout the tribal agencies.

Haji Omar was behind the Waziristan Accord. Click image to view.

On September 5, we noted that senior Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldashev were present at the signing. On September 23, we noted that major Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, including members of the Central Shura, fully backed the Waziristan Accord.

Dawn goes on to document the violations of the truce, items we’ve documented here since its signing: the continuation of targeted assassinations, the presence of ‘foreigners’ in the region, the absence of Pakistani troops, the rise in crime and the existence of two Taliban offices in Miramshah. The Taliban themselves mentions ten offices in the note pinned on the chest of an assassinated “spy.”

The Friday Times of Lahore took a trip to Miramshah and discovered the Taliban have near total control of the city. Iqbal Khattak describes the scene:

Markets were open, streets were full of people and many long-haired people known as the ‘Taliban’ were patrolling the bazaar in 4×4 SSR jeeps and on foot, brandishing Kalashnikov, rifles and other weapons. Vehicles were leaving from the general bus stand in all directions and trailers were bringing different commodity items into the bazaar and carrying exports goods to Afghanistan through the Ghulam Khan check-post. There are few signs of government presence, however. All check-posts have been vacated and paramilitary jawans are almost gone except at one or two places. The military is back to the barracks. I only saw two tribal policemen at one place near the Dattakhel bus stand.

The local view is the Taliban have gained the upper hand in signing the “truce.” “The Taliban have emerged victorious from the accord. Whatever demands they put on the table were met (by the government),” said Pehlawan Malik Mir Kazim, an elder in a town near Miramshah. “This is the general perception among the people here.” Kazim refutes the claims the Waziristan Accord was designed to counter the Taliban. “If that were true the Taliban would not be moving around openly without any fear of the government,” said Kazim.

The militants are clearly triumphant and enjoying the freedom of movement the accord has afforded them. As one 22-year old militant Bismillah Khan put it: “It is great to move around without fear of encountering the troops.” Former FATA security chief Brig. (Retd), Mehmood Shah said the accord gave the Taliban complete freedom of movement and the “chances of presence [sic] of high value targets” must have grown following the government’s lifting of travel restrictions on militants. The Taliban look fresh, their hair well-oiled. “They were mostly battle-fatigued and dust covered when they were fighting the troops and moving constantly from one place to another,” Rasool Khan, a chemist near the agency headquarters hospital, told TFT.

This has far-reaching implications. The Taliban and al Qaeda have a safe haven in every sense of the word. They are no longer the tired, hunted fugitives concerned about the Pakistani Army. Their energies can now be directed from survival to current and future operations. The Pakistani government has not ceded authority over the tribal agencies, only control. Musharraf has repeatedly stated cross border raids from U.S. and NATO forces would be unacceptable violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The Taliban and al Qaeda have openly established training camps and are recruiting, arming and training fighters, and sortieing them into Afghanistan, within Pakistan, and beyond.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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17 Comments

  • Dom says:

    Here goes the hope that the accord will help the US and NATO operate in Waziristan! Optimism leads to disappointments sometimes. Dom.

  • Michael says:

    Let the weeds grow tall and get comfortable a little while before the harvest…. Let them be proud, arrogant, open, meeting, training. Let Zawahiri become proud and show his face.

  • If the Pak Army and Frontier Corps has bugged out of Waziristan, what friendlies are there left for us to hit? Waziristan is now a free fire zone.
    OEF and ISAF can’t be logistically supported in Central Asia by airlift alone. Musharraf hasn’t denied airspace or cut the road from Karachi yet. Would he if we invade Waziristan? Or has he set this up so we can do what needs doing and he doesn’t get blamed for it?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I’ve mentioned this in previous posts and comments threads, and it appears this still hasn’t sunk in.
    The Waziristan Accord is a Bad Thing no matter how you look at it.
    – Musharraf has not ceded the region. He is choosing not to administer the security. That is a huge difference.
    – We depend on Pakistan as a logistical chain to Afghanistan.
    – US air strikes will have a minimal effect, and create international condemnation along with more instability inside Pakistan. Remember reactions to the strike against Zawahiri in January… That killed 16 people. The media and governments went berserk.
    – Waziristan has Taliban Armies. That can’t be reduced via air power alone.
    – Unless we are prepared to push in a large ground force in Waziristan, and I’m going to guesstimate 50,000 is probably a good starting point, the Taliban and al-Qaeda has won.
    Prolonged air strikes or an American incursion is politically untenable at this time.

  • GK says:

    That’s it. The US has lost. We are no longer capable of winning wars.
    1. Pakistan has nuclear weapons
    2. AQ Khan was selling nuclear secrets. There may be others like him.
    3. Al-Qaeda, including Bin Laden himself, now operate freely in their own special region in Pakistan.
    How can the combination of these 3 point result in anything less than a nuclear suitcase bomb going off in a US city? Why would it NOT happen?

  • David says:

    How long would anyone estimate it to be before Pakistan makes logistical support for Nato/US forces in Afganistan untenable? Would Afganistan then fall back to the Taliban, like ripe, low hanging fruit? I’ve always believed that our “small footprint” in Afganistan was due primarily to logistical constraints, i.e., how many soldiers we could support/evacuate (by air alone) if the ground route through Pakistan became blocked by a “hostile” Pakistan.
    This day is coming, you can see it; it is the next tactical step. The whole Taliban offensive in Waziristan is an ISI-inspired operation to undermine Musharraf, and any attempt by Musharraf to allie himself to the West, defeat the US in Afganistan and it has succeeded (first step, anyways). Taking random “potshots” with a few airstrikes against Waziristan would be meaningless and provacative.
    Would people in the US and the West in general, really want an ‘open’ war with Pakistan, with the ensuing “revolution” ousting any government friendly, in any degree to the West, and with a REAL nuclear arsenal? Placing those nukes in the hands of al Qaeda?
    Waziristan would be a real “quagmire”, where the US could be bled badly if we engage on the ground, in a hostile country with a very long and tenuous logistical tail for the US Army and Marines.
    There is a real solution for this, but no one is quite ready (psychologically) for the measures that would be needed. That may be 3-5 years away, and a very major terroist act against the continental US, at least.
    The GWOT has taken a bad turn, and this is a real defeat. There is no silver lining to this black cloud. This is the most under-reported major news in the world right now, and I wonder why? Now, back to important things, like Mark Foley.

  • Michael says:

    Bill, I well regard your insight, or I would not be here and what you have said previously does resonate.
    I do see certain realities, but this line of yours is most telling.
    “Prolonged air strikes or an American incursion is politically untenable at this time.”
    There’s much to be said about the last 5 words, “…poltically untenable at this time.”
    My comment was not about a prolonged strike, merely a culling of the top heads of Taliban and Al Qaeda if presented with the undeniable opportunity to either capture or kill the top leaders.
    If however your stating that Bush and our Generals no longer have the stomach to strike highest value targets, then we are capitulating on a scale that even Clinton at one time did not. And that causes me to lose faith in our leaders. I hope this is not the case, or maybe I do not understand your point fully.
    Afterall, killing Zawahiri, Laden, Omar, etc., was always going to create an outcry, protest, deaths and retaliation.
    Politically untenable is key and I agree. Maybe what I’m not seeing or what is not sinking in, is that Musharraf would fall if we were to kill one of those mentioned in the tribal areas.
    Is this what your estimating or know for sure?
    David, as to having “lost”. We have not lost the war, only the possible will to do whatever it takes “currently” in this long war to fully destroy the enemy. These are battles in a long war.
    Unlike WWII, the impressions given to the people are not of dire consequences yet, so as a group, they are still willing to show mercy.
    There are no real sacrifices for us to make today, unlike our ancestors who had entire families committed either in service or some form of work to support the war effort, from Hollywood to Smallwood, every one pitched in.
    So much of Europe, America and our allies are not yet ready for a full confrontation that it will take to route out the tyrants and religious zealots that need to be expunged from the feifdoms and from the midst of them.
    We don’t truly wish to see yet millions killed posted across our screen. We think of ourselves as a civil nation, not given over to barbaric tactics.
    The world screamed bloody murder at Israel for killing a few thousand Hezbollah guerillas and the collatoral damage done to cause innocent deaths.
    What most refuse to acknowledge is that radical Islam if given the opportunity will punch the button, if given the technology. Russia and Chinese leaders certainly don’t care if a few million Americans die as a result of their support of such rogue nations. They have no real empathy for their own people, much less still perceived historic enemies.
    I’m not sure what it will take to make it “politically tenable” as Bill’s reference point. Certainly time and unfortunately, I think a severe attack again on our people, or Europe.
    This world can only avoid the unavoidable for so long.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Michael,
    When I am referring to political, I am discussing the international dimension here – particularly with causing the downfall of the Musharraf regime and the loss of Pakistan as the logistical line to Afghanistan. And the nukes.
    Taking out HVTs along won’t fix the problem in Waziristan. Major elements of AQ and the Taliban are there. Airstrikes alone won’t fix it.
    I’m sure I don’thave to explain the importance of losing Pakistan.

  • David says:

    Michael,
    I can only echo Mr. Roggio hear, but please, I don’t think we have “lost” the War on Terror (or the War Against Salafist Islam, take your pick).
    But as Mr. Roggio has described and reported here on the happenings in Waziristan, this is a DEFEAT for the US and those forces in Afganistan (NATO and Afgan) that are allied to our cause.
    The Taliban and al Qaeda have regrouped and found safe haven in Waziristan, and effectively, we can’t touch them without violating Pakistan’s soveriegnty. The Pakistani ISI has manipulated this situation to their satisfaction. They are not finished manipulating the situation further. What is their next step? Do we have any kind of political or military counterstroke available?
    Are we, as a nation, ready to violate Pakistan’s soveriegnty, at this time, with sufficient force (and the political resolve behind it) to sustain the fight? I think we would both agree that we (the US and NATO) are not there yet.
    Incinerate Quetta and kill tens of thousands? It may come to that (I hope not Dear God!), but I think we both agree that philosophically and politically, this country, as a whole isn’t there yet. You’ve said that yourself in your post above.

  • Thanos says:

    First Bill is right in the evidence he’s presenting, however I am still taking a contrasting view to Bill on this, and think that we are going to have to wait to see outcome over time. If we want eventual peace, at some point we have to make it, that means some of the bad guys get a pass. It’s that or near-genocide in the region to win. Polls show that the US is hated there, but Al Qaeda is #2 on the hate list, and are not looked upon favorably either.
    I don’t think Bin Laden is still there, nor Zawahiri. Yeah, they’ve left some lieutenants behind, ergo the Assasination or coup attempts. If the peace were so good for the Al Qaeda, then why are they trying to kill Mushy? Why is the MMA against what’s going on? There’s a grander scheme at work here, regardless of outcome it is going to change things forever. For the better or for the worse is the remaining question. One thing I can predict: Nato had best prep for a major exodus of returning Afghan refugees next Spring, with them are going to come some hardline Taliban.
    //noblesseoblige.org/wordpress/?p=595

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Bill,
    I would like to take issue with your statement “I’m sure I don’thave to explain the importance of losing Pakistan.”
    We have already lost Pakistan since we don’t appear to be either capable or willing to go in on foot and sort the place out.
    We have tried the old colonial trick of making a ‘local agent’ in this case the Mushraf regime responsible for ‘policing’their own people but since the local agent does not appear to fear us and as such has choosen to align itself with the opposition then we don’t have much choice.
    If we do not take steps to sort Pakistan out in the next 12/24 months then we might as well give up….

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Raj,
    We’ve lost Waziristan, are on teh verge of losing other agencies, and Quetta is also a Taliban stronghold. But Pakistan proper hasn’t been lost.

  • Cruiser says:

    There is an interesting paragraph in an Asia time Online article relted to the “coup” attempt (by rockets?) on the Musharraf govt.
    “The main task – as reinforced by Washington – is to destroy the command and control centers in Pakistan of the Taliban-led Afghan resistance. Word has filtered out that Islamabad will launch a major action in the next few days in the northwest and southwest (Balochistan).”
    I’m trying desparately to cling to the hope that Mush. will clean out the tribal areas.
    Bill have you heard anything on this? To be effective, it would have to be coordinated with Nato movements on the Afghan side. Are there any signs that our forces are being positioned to support the effort?

  • GK says:

    Pakistan is two distinct parts.
    East of the Indus, most Pakistanis are genetically and culturally more Indian (Punjabis, Sindhis, etc.) They look Indian. Musharaff is part of this group. They are somewhat less interested in Jihad and more interested in making money. They hate America, but don’t quite have what it takes to act on it.
    West of the Indus, most Pakistanis are Pashtun, Balochi, and other Central Asian strains. They identify more with Afghan, Persian, and Mongol culture, rather than Indian culture like their compatriots on the other side of the river. They physically look different than the Indian-looking Pakistanis east of the Indus.
    The best thing for the world is if the Indian-type Pakistanis win out.

  • Dom says:

    Since Pakistan does not look like any kind of a cohesive entity, “Losing Pakistan” is a phrase which creates confusion, at least in my mind.

    Our ability to use whatever Pakistani airspace and whatever Pakistani land path to our logistical benefit sounds like one of precious things which we could lose, and whose loss could be termed as “losing Pakistan”. By the way, as long as we enjoy such conveniences, what’s in it for them, and which “them” exactly are we talking about? This is probably one of the divisive issues within Pakistan. If Musharraf is doing us a “favor”, there must be other entities (ISI?) seeing this concession under a less “favorable” light?

    There is so much ambiguity and so many brittle loyalties, whenever we get involved in any way, I’m afraid we necessarily partake in the equivocation that still prevails in these unsettled quarters.

    I’m afraid the Pakistani government has never been quite sovereign over the provinces for which this agreement seems to have been custom-made. After the agreement, this area stands as the new “official” Taliban-con-AQ estate, with Sharia and all, as Afghanistan used to be. If these thugs are the beneficiaries of the drug trade, what do they need to be part of Pakistan for? After the recent defeat of the Pakistani army, and with this agreement, why should they fear Musharraf anymore? That sounds like the creation of a de facto independent sovereign entity to me, one which does even not need a seat at the UN in order to pursue its agenda.

    If the Waziristan folks are seen as heroes by the Pakistani and other muslim populations comparatively safe from such a direct exposure to the rigors of Sharia, they are endowed with an enviable political capital, and I’m afraid they got the best end of the bargain, at least for now.

    I’m thinking that sovereign entities of this kind represent some form of territorial consolidation of our otherwise scattered enemies, which may not be such a bad thing in the longer term. Talibanistan does not need to exchange ambassadors with the Mogadishu authorities, they are already mutually “pre-recognized”, how convenient, and with plausibly deniable recognition at that!

    If you can prove my fears unfounded, please do not wait too long, it will make me feel better.

    Sorry.

  • Michael says:

    Bill and David,
    Thanks. I agree, air strikes alone of top targets will not suffice. I’m not sure it would bring Musharraf down. I am uncertain about Pakistan’s allegience being required long term or that Musharraf’s not playing both sides to the detriment of America’s goals in the area. It appears Musharraf is prolonging the real battle yet to take place. Maybe it is out of weakness. But I never got that from his interviews and speechs while in our country. Of course if Pakistan falls, the outcome shifts all boundaries and war tactics. But it should clarify political ambiguities currently existing from India to Europe, Australia, Canada and America.
    My questions are if Pakistan does fall, become more dangerous than just a local pariah, then will we do what is currently unthinkable? I’m trying to see all sides and future scenarios.
    I think we’re heading for much larger scale warfare in the future with or without our involvment. I think we have underestimated Russia and China’s roles and their chess game maneuvers which are counteracting the spread of freedom. Putin is gearing up with Georgia for conflict. Both Russia and China are committed to North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, etc., with the beneficial arms trade and money flow being transferred to terrorist.
    I am curious what Russia would think if Israel started selling its best weapons technology to Chechneyan terrorist. This is exactly what Russia is doing to Israel’s enemies.

  • NDCUS says:

    The Waziristan Accord may not work as planned; I personally doubt it has a chance of achieving any measurable effects. The military will not allow the country to fall into the hands of the Taliban because they are the educated elite and are the recipients of the millions we are pouring into the country.
    I’m not sure the argument about Pakistan being a critical airloc is valid; we can fly from Germany or anywhere else in the ME to AF now. We don’t drive anything now into AF  so a strain on our lift assets yes hindering ops in AF not likely.
    I believe the Pakistanis would let us maneuver in the NWFP and Balochistan IF they didn’t have to worry about the India army pursuing into Pakistan. That is their hard on about hot pursuit.
    The country has a serious inferiority complex and the anti-American sentiment is off the scale by most of the populace.
    My recommendation is to pack it all in and stop all money to all of the ME including Israel. Tell Israel to solve the land issue with the Palestinians immediately. So the U.S. doesn’t have to take crap from every country in the world and those same countries then have to accept responsibility for their on problems versus blaming Israel. Second, tell India to get out of the Kashmir area now. There is a UN resolution lets let it work and stop the fighting. India screwed over the Paks during partition and they know it. Workout the water distribution issues with a third party (Chine and Russia) talks.
    If the above doesn’t work we do have first strike capability to ensure successful effects on all required targets that would guarantee unconditional surrender. The Paks ready don’t like sanctions or unconditional surrender for historical reasons. So lets either solve the issues or get the next great game on!

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