Taliban violate Swat truce, kill two soldiers

The Swat Taliban have again violated the indefinite ceasefire they signed with the government, with the ambush of a military convoy by Taliban fighters. The Taliban took credit for the ambush that killed two soldiers killed and wounded one officer, and blamed the military for the attack.

“Security forces are making movements without any prior information, which force Taliban to carry out attacks,” Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told the Associated Press. “We do reserve a right to defend ourselves.” Khan said the military was required to inform the Taliban about any movements in the district.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the attack was “unprovoked.” Abbas said the “peace committee,” headed by Sufi Mohammed, the radical, pro-Taliban cleric, was made aware of the military’s movement.

Sufi Mohammed, who is supposed to be moderating between the government and the Taliban, put the blame on the government for the violations of the ceasefire.

“I will abandon efforts for peace if the security forces and the government continue violations of the peace accord,” Sufi said, according to Daily Times. “The Taliban are doing nothing wrong … the government is responsible for violations.”

The Taliban and the government agreed to an indefinite ceasefire as the peace agreement, known as the Malakand Accord, is negotiated. The peace agreement, if signed, would put an end to the brutal fighting in Swat, which began in 2007 and resulted in the Taliban’s taking total control over the district.

The Taliban have violated the ceasefire several times since it was implemented in late February. The most prominent case took place just days after the ceasefire took effect. The Taliban captured the district coordinating officer for Swat and six of his Frontier Corps Guards. A Taliban spokesman said the officer was a “guest” who was detained to “discuss some issues.” The government freed several Taliban prisoners to secure the captives’ release. Two days ago, the Taliban kidnapped a Frontier Corps officer and five of his troops and also attacked a military vehicle transporting sick troops.

The military has failed to retaliate for the violations of the ceasefire, and instead has lodged complaints with the peace commission.

Zardari: government negotiating with “traditional local clerics” and not the Taliban

The latest violation of the Swat ceasefire took place just one day before Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari penned an article in The Wall Street Journal defending Pakistan’s conduct in the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Zardari denied negotiations were being conducted with the Taliban.

“In the highly volatile Swat Valley, our strategy has been to enter into talks with traditional local clerics to help restore peace to the area, and return the writ of the state,” Zardari wrote. “We have not and will not negotiate with extremist Taliban and terrorists. The clerics with whom we have engaged are not Taliban. Indeed, in our dialogue we’d made it clear that it is their responsibility to rein in and neutralize Taliban and other insurgents.”

But Zardari’s claim that negotiations are not being carried out with “extremist Taliban and terrorist” and instead are being held with “traditional local clerics” becomes difficult to defend when looking at the main cleric behind the peace negotiations: Sufi Mohammed.

Sufi Mohammed is the spiritual leader of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, or the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad’s Sharia Law. Sufi led more than 10,000 Pakistanis into Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001. The Pakistani government jailed Sufi after his return from Afghanistan and banned Sufi’s radical group.

The government released Sufi from jail in the fall of 2007 to negotiate a peace agreement with Mullah Fazlullah, the Swat Taliban leader and a senior deputy in Baitullah Mehsud’s Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Sufi claimed to have eschewed violence after being released from prison. The 2008 peace agreement failed and the Taliban took full control of Swat shortly afterwards.

Sufi and the Swat Taliban maintained very close links to the radical administration of the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, the pro-Taliban mosque in the heart of Islamabad whose followers enforced sharia and kidnapped policemen just one mile from the seat of government. The Pakistani military stormed the Lal Masjid in July 2007 after a several-month standoff. More than a hundred followers and more than a dozen soldiers were killed in the battle.

In recent interviews, Sufi has declared his hatred for democracy and the West, and described Mullah Omar’s regime in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 as “ideal.”

“From the very beginning, I have viewed democracy as a system imposed on us by the infidels. Islam does not allow democracy or elections,” Sufi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur just days before the Malakand Accord was signed. “I believe the Taliban government formed a complete Islamic state, which was an ideal example for other Muslim countries.”

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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  • KW64 says:

    I presume then that either the Taliban is informing the army ahead of time about the Taliban’s movements or if they are not, it is perfectly alright within the frame work of the peace plan for the army to defend themselves by killing any Taliban that cross their path.

  • don juice says:

    what is wrong with pakistan? their leaders deny there wrong doing,every terrorist attack abroad connects back to their country,they make deals with the same people who want them diminish then their own intel agency coordinates attacks with their enemy,its a mess,we need B2 bombers in the air hitting targets cause this is really getting out of control

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Zardari is quite wrong, their is no difference between Sufi Mohammed and the Taliban. The Taliban are going to get Zardari, the only question is whether they get him before his army does!!!
    Sufi Mohammed & the Taliban & the Government of Pakistan are all one and the same. It just depends from which angle you are looking to what you see.
    Bill is quite right and has been right for some time, the Taliban, wearing which ever turban, will take over Pakistan and then the world will have a big problem since MAD doctrine does not work on these guys.
    In some sense I admire them because in this day and age its not often that we meet people who are prepared to die for what they believe in and maybe the world needs people like the Taliban to remind us as too what we have and be prepared to kill to defend it.

  • Marlin says:

    And what a threat those two soldiers were.

    According to Swat Media Center, soldiers were martyred when they were carrying water tanker.

    Geo TV: Two soldiers martyred in Swat

  • NEO says:

    The bottom line is that the Pakistani Army is in full retreat. The SWAT treaties are little more than a fig leaf that the Taliban offers to make defeat more palatable to the government. The Taliban has succeeded in dictating their own terms. The fluff written into the margins of the agreement is little more than a meaningless charade included to satisfy bureaucratic and political fetishes on the governments side. “Peace”

  • Rhyno327 says:

    Wow. Why don’t they just run up a white flag and accept the consequences? No retaliation? No GUTS.

  • JusCruzn says:

    Has anyone been keeping track of exactly how many truce agreements the taliban have violated? All these truce agreements do is give the taliban time to regroup and rearm.

  • dan says:

    [Deleted by moderator.
    Dan: Read the comments policy.
    We have a “no politics in the mess” rule.]

  • Midnight says:

    The Taliban have a long Political history as well as any thing else that one should look at in this situation. Perhaps it isn’t prudent but the two countries Pak./Afghan. have seemed to begin to relish the idea of some organized peace in the area. In fact, I am watching the Afghan elections myself, I believe that we will see a major turn of events at this time until then patience may be the better part of valor.


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