A senior official in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province wants the Taliban to integrate into the security forces in the region where the government ceded to the Taliban’s demands to implement sharia, or Islamic Law, and end military operations. The official also described the Swat Taliban leader as a “good human being.”
Syed Muhammad Javed, the Malakand Division Commissioner, has proposed that the Taliban provide recruits for the police and the paramilitary Levies force. The Malakand Division is made up of the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, and Chitral.
“I have proposed the Taliban be adjusted in police or Levies force and have suggested this at several forums,” Javed told Daily Times. He claimed the police force’s “confidence is shaken” due to a Taliban campaign of assassination and intimidation.
The police have been hit so hard that the force has been rendered ineffective. The government claimed that 70 policemen, an estimated five percent of the force, have been killed since the fighting in Swat broke out in July 2007. More than 800 policemen, more than half of the force, have deserted their posts or taken extended leaves to avoid the Taliban attacks. Another 142 troops from the paramilitary Frontier Corps have been reported killed since August 2008.
During the fighting between the Swat Taliban and government forces, the Swat Taliban targeted police officers, tribal leaders, and politicians. Family members of government officials and tribal leaders were killed, and their homes were torched.
The military ceased operations in Swat in February 2009 after it failed to dislodge the Taliban. Sufi Mohammed, the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Mullah Fazlullah, brokered a peace agreement between the government and the Taliban. Under the agreement, the government has committed to implement sharia, end the military campaign, and release Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban agreed to end attacks. But the Taliban has violated the agreement several times when it kidnapped the district coordinating officer and his bodyguards, murdered two soldiers, and captured a Frontier Corps officer and several of his men.
Javed and the military have refused to respond to the Taliban infractions. Javeed even went out of his way to praise Mullah Fazlullah. He described Fazlullah as a “good human being,” Daily Times reported.
Javed’s proposal to integrate the Taliban into the security forces comes as the US Congress is debating a $20 billion aid package to Pakistan. Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar have proposed giving Pakistan a one-time $5 billion grant plus a 10-year aid package worth $15 billion. Some of this money is slated to improve the security forces in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and the Taliban-controlled tribal agencies.
But Pakistan’s history of appropriately spending US aid money is appalling. More than $3.8 billion of an estimated $5 billion of military aid given to Pakistan up until December 2007 is unaccounted for, and it has been reported that millions of dollars in US aid has gone to pay reparations to the Taliban in Swat.
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