Taliban and al Qaeda leaders confident; the NWFP is becoming a Taliban training and recruiting grounds; Pakistan tells NATO to appease the Taliban in Afghanistan
Pakistan continues its slide into darkness as the government attempts to appeases the Taliban. While the Chingai al Qaeda training camp air stike, which killed 80 Taliban, gave some hope that the Pakistani government may change its policy of appeasement to the Taliban, the follow up suicide bombing at the Dargai Army base, which killed 45 recruits, sent a message to the Pakistani government and military. Pakistan has ceased to aggressively or passively fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal areas, and has essentially ceded the region to the terrorists.
Alexis Debat reports the Taliban and al Qaeda are so confident in their security with North Waziristan that “senior al Qaeda operatives have been spotted ‘walking and talking openly’ in the market of Mir Ali in North Waziristan.” Mr. Debat also notes the al Qaeda presence in the Northwest Frontier Province has increased since the signing of the Waziristan Accord. And the Taliban are pushing a recruitment program as well.
U.S. intelligence have also noted the increasing presence of foreigners in Waziristan, Bajaur and Dir, as well as up to Chitral, further north at the border with Afghanistan, where British intelligence sources tell ABC News that the Taliban are “recruiting openly” for the jihad in Afghanistan. Pakistani militants have also opened several offices in Khar, the main city of Bajaur, to recruit volunteers for combat or suicide missions against NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to intelligence sources.
The Jamestown Foundation notes that senior al Qaeda have passed through Chitral, and extremism is on the rise. We noted after the signing of the Waziristan Accord that the tribal agencies of Bajaur, Tank, Khyber, Peshawar and Dera Ishmal Khan are contested agencies, essentially in the Taliban’s sphere of influence. Pakistan’s western tribal regions are essentially lost to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the whole of the Northwest Frontier Province is in danger of meeting the same fate.
The Waziristan Accord was explicitly set up to prevent the infiltration of “foreigners” (al Qaeda), prohibit the establishment of parallel governments, stop the assassination of pro-government tribals, halt attacks on government and military institutions and check the power of the Taliban.
None of these goals have been reached, and the situation is worsening. Just yesterday, in North Waziristan, the Taliban assassinated another “spy”. He received the usual treatment: he was shot in the head with a warning note pinned to his body, then thrown in a ditch. The Taliban also attacked another military base. Four ‘militants’ were killed after they attacked a base near Mir Ali.
In Bajaur, the government claims to have reopened the files on the banned Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariah-e-Mohammadi, or the “Pakistani Taliban.” The Daily Times reports “The government has now reopened the cases against TNSM activists including its acting chief Maulana Alam, Maulana Fazlullah and Maulvi Haq. The suspected TNSM activists have been directed through newspaper advertisements to appear in court and face charges filed against them under anti-terrorism laws.” But the Pakistani government doesn’t have the ability to enforce the law in Bajaur (incidentally, this is why they had to use air power against the Chingai madrassa.)
Pakistan’s appeasement to the Taliban extends beyond its own border. Now the government is openly calling for NATO to cease military activity, depose Afghan President Hamid Karzai and assist with the formation of an Afghan unity government, with Taliban participation.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops. Western ministers have been stunned. “Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban,” said one Western official who met the minister recently.
General Jan Orakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province, “insists that the Taliban represent the Pashtun population, Afghanistan’s largest and Pakistan’s second largest ethnic group, and they now lead a “national resistance” movement to throw out Western occupation forces, just as there is in Iraq.” He also advocates more peace deals in Afghanistan that are akin to the Musa Qala surrender, where the British turned over the Helmand district to the Taliban.
An American intelligence official likens Orakzai to a “Quisling” or “shill” as he is willing to surrender Pakistan’s sovereignty to the Taliban. Orakzai is also believed to be in collusion with the Taliban. On October 15, we described Orakzai as “is a known Taliban sympathizer and is a proponent of expanding the terms of the Waziristan Accord throughout the tribal agencies.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.