Taliban exchange Swat official for prisoners

The Swat Taliban released a senior Swat district official and six of his Frontier Corps bodyguards after kidnapping them as they travelled to the town of Mingora. The government freed three Taliban fighters who were detained in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The incident was a violation of the ceasefire agreed upon by Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah’ and the government and military.

“The government has released two (of) our men and soon they will release the third,” said Muslim Khan, the spokesman for the Swat Taliban. “The government violated the agreement by arresting our men in Peshawar and killing [another] in Dir that is why we had to do this.”

According to Dawn, the district official was “kidnapped intentionally because TTP [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] wanted to give a lesson to the government that if the deal is violated then such incidents will continue to take place.”

Khan initially claimed the Swat official was his “guest” who was present for discussions and tea. “He is our guest,” Khan told the media. “We have to discuss some issues with him. We will serve him with tea and then free him.”

The kidnapping took place as Pakistan’s military threatened to abandon the ceasefire and reinitiate military operation operations. “If it [the peace agreement] does not restore peace in the area, the government will have to go for other options including military operation,” said Major General Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military.

The military did not react to the kidnapping of the Swat official and his six bodyguards despite this being a clear violation of the ceasefire.

Abbas also said the military would remain in Swat until peace was enforced, despite Fazlullah’s demand the Army leave the district and the Frontier Corps remain in barracks.

Background on the Malakand Accord

The government agreed to impose sharia, or Islamic law and end military operations in the Malakand division, the administrative region that is made up of the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, and Chitral. The agreement essentially cedes more than one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province to the Taliban.

The government succumbed to negotiations after the military was defeated in three separate operations in Swat since November 2007. Fazlullah’s followers have been in complete control of Swat for two years and have imposed sharia on its people for that long.

The agreement, known as the Malakand Accord, was reached with Sufi Mohammed, the father- in-law of Fazlullah and a radical Islamist who sent more than 10,000 Taliban fighters to attack US forces in Afghanistan. Sufi claimed that he would control the sharia courts.

The Taliban agreed to a 10-day ceasefire, which expires on Feb. 25. There have been conflicting reports about the extension of the ceasefire. Some reports claimed Fazlullah agreed to extend the ceasefire “indefinitely” while other reports said Fazlullah will make a decision on Feb. 25.

On Feb. 20, Fazlullah issued a list of demands to be met in exchange for a permanent ceasefire. He insisted the Pakistani Army withdraw from Swat and the Frontier Corps remain in barracks, and that the government release all Taliban prisoners, withdraw all criminal cases and grant amnesty, and pay reparations to the Taliban.

The Pakistani government has agreed to such demands in the past, including in North and South Waziristan, Khyber, and in Bajaur.

For more information on developments with the Malakand Accord, see:

Taliban kidnap senior Swat official>

Feb. 22, 2009

Swat Taliban demands military withdrawal, prisoner release

Feb. 20, 2009

Analysis: Pakistan peace agreement cedes ground to the Taliban

Feb. 18, 2009

Sufi Mohammed ‘hates democracy’ and calls for global Islamic rule

Feb. 18, 2009

Pakistan to end military operation and implement sharia in Malakand Division

Feb. 15, 2009

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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5 Comments

  • KnightHawk says:

    “If it [the peace agreement] does not restore peace in the area, the government will have to go for other options including military operation,” said Major General Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military.

    Worked out so well the last 3 times, one hope the options include turning ‘alternate forces’ lose in the area are among the options, but I will not hold my breath.

  • BamCav3 says:

    Sounds like blackmail to me. What makes the Paki’s think the Taliban will honor this? Whats that saying? Fool me once….

  • Nic says:

    Bill: Could LWJ produce a new map of the region based on the current realities. The countries would be Pakistan, Afghanistan, Talibanstan, AlQaedastan and any other “stan” that fits the situation. Thanks.

  • NEO says:

    Something smells fishy here. Wasn’t this guy kidnapped only a day ago. I’ll try not to jump to conclusions but that has to be the world’s fastest prisoner exchange.
    Too quick! Too slick! So; Who’s in on it?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Nick,
    Actually that is in the works now. We’re sorting out the Afghanistan data. We want to provide a brief explanation for each rating so it will take a little more time.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis