The Pakistani government has signed another peace agreement with the Taliban in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. On Monday, the Pakistani government signed a peace agreement with Taliban commander Omar Khalid in the Mohmand tribal agency, making this the third such agreement in northwestern Pakistan since April 20.
The deal requires the Taliban to renounce attacks on the Pakistani government and security forces. The Taliban will maintain a ban on the activities of nongovernment organizations in the region and agreed not to attack women in the workplace if they wear the veil. Both sides exchanged prisoners. Eight members of the Saafi tribe were exchanged for a doctor. Khalid is a member of the Saafi tribe.
The Taliban immediately moved to establish a parallel government in Mohmand. “The local Taliban have set up a complaint cell to resolve people’s problems,” GEO News reported. “The decision to establish the complaint cell has been taken to provide people with quick dispensation of justice.”
The Mohmand peace agreement is the latest in a series of negotiations with the Taliban in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. On April 20, a six-point deal was struck between the Pakistani government and the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM – the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law) in the Malakand Division. Just one month later, the Pakistani government inked another peace deal with the Taliban in the settled district of Swat. The Pakistani government is also in negotiations with the Taliban in South Waziristan.
Who is Omar Khalid?
Omar Khalid’s involvement with terrorism stretches back at least a decade. He was a member of the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a banned terrorist group that conducts attacks in Kashmir. He trained in terror camps in Kashmir and fought Indian forces, The Asia Times reported. He maintained close links with the Kashmiri terror outfits but also looked to contribute to the Taliban cause. Immediately after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Khalid took hundreds of fighters across the border to fight US forces.
Khalid claims to have 3,000 armed and trained fighters under his command. In July 2007, Khalid’s forces seized a historic mosque and shrine in the Mohmand tribal agency and renamed it the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, after the Taliban mosque in Islamabad that was assaulted by the government in mid-July.
Last Summer, Khalid denied links with the Taliban and al Qaeda even as he pledged allegiance to Red Mosque leader Ghazi Abdur Rashid. “If [the Taliban] come to us, we will welcome them,” said Khalid. “We will continue Ghazi Abdur Rashid’s mission even if it means sacrificing our lives.” Khalid also threatened to “use suicide bombers in self defense” if the new Red Mosque was raided. He seeks to “Islamize” the local tribes and plans establishing a “vice and virtue force.”
Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is de facto control; yellow is under threat.
But Khalid has since joined the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the umbrella Taliban organization led by Baitullah Mehsud that united movements in the tribal areas and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. Khalid is the Taliban’s representative for Mohmand agency.
For more information on the terms of the peace agreements in Swat and Bajaur, and the proposed terms for the agreement in South Waziristan, see:
Pakistan is negotiating a new peace agreement with Baitullah Mehsud (South Waziristan)
Pakistan releases Taliban leader, signs peace deal with outlawed Taliban group (Bajaur, Malakand Division)
See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan: An Online History for more information on the rise of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and the peace agreements signed between the government and the Taliban.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.