A peace deal in imminent in Bajaur, despite the worsening situation in the tribal agencies
The Pakistani government is preparing to cede the Federally Administered Tribal Agency of Bajaur to the Taliban. Jan Aurakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province, has informed the media that a ‘peace deal’ fashioned after the Waziristan Accord is imminent, Dawn reports.
Bajaur has long been an al Qaeda command and control center. The Taliban and al Qaeda funnel their northern Afghanistan operations from Bajaur. Afghanistan’s Kunar province, which sits just across the border from Bajaur, is one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan.
Last October, the Pakistani government was just 24 hours from signing an agreement with the ‘Pakistani Taliban’ of Maulana Faqir Mohamed’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (or TNSM, which translates to the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia) when airstrikes hit a Taliban training camp in a madrassa Chingai. While the Pakistani government claimed responsibility, this was likely a U.S. Special Operations strike designed to sabotage the deal.
Liaquat Hussain, one of Faqir’s lieutenants who ran the Chingai camp, was killed, along with 80 Taliban. Faqir Mohamed narrowly escaped death. Up to five al Qaeda operatives were believed to have been at the Chingai camp. Intelligence indicated Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and Matiur Rehman, a high-ranking leader in al Qaeda’s in Pakistan and operational planner of the failed London plots, may have been in the madrassa. After the airstrike, TNSM, Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s, which is just the banned al Qaeda affiliate Lashkar-e-Taiba only renamed, and the Taliban supporting Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) political party held large protests in Bajaur and throughout the tribal areas and the NWFP.
During a tribal jirga (or council) just days prior to the Chingai airstrike, Faqir Mohamed called “Osama Bin Laden and Mulla Omar ‘heroes of the Muslim world’ and vowed joint efforts to fight the ‘enemies of peace’ in Bajaur Agency.” He also lamented the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. TNSM is a banned organization in Pakistan, and Faqir Mohamed was once a wanted man in Pakistan for his role in sheltering al Qaeda terrorists. NBC News’ Mushtaq Yusufzai calls Faqir an “Yet Faqir is free to negotiate with the government and TNSM remains in tact and in control of Bajaur.
NWFP governor Jan Aurakazi has long been an advocate of promoting further peace deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal areas. Even after the Bajaur airstrike last fall, and TNSM’s subsequent denouncements of the government and campaign of assassinations and attacks on government forces, which included a suicide attack that killed over 40 Pakistani soldiers, Aurakazi pushed to continue with negotiations with the Taliban.
Pakistan has lost control of its western territories, and is attempting to put the best face on this failure by cutting deals that cannot and will not enforce, and then claiming success. Musharraf, Aurakazi and a host of Pakistani political and military leaders continue to claim success with the Waziristan Accord, and promote the false hope that further peace deals can bring peace in the west.
This failure comes at the expense of security in Afghanistan, the West, as al Qaeda is plotting strikes and training terrorist from the tribal areas, and within Pakistan itself. The Taliban are openly pushing their agenda in the Northwest Frontier Territory, and are conducting a nationwide terror campaign to cower the government. The peace deals in North and south Waziristan, the upcoming deal in Bajaur and others soon to follow, and the inability to take action against the terrorists inside their own borders poses a direct threat to the existence of the Pakistani state.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.