The Pakistani government is targeting the leadership of the pro-Taliban group behind the failed peace agreement in Northwestern Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports indicate Sufi Mohammed and five other senior leaders of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law] have been detained in Dir.
The military has confirmed that three senior members of the group have been detained. Maulana Alam, the deputy leader of the TNSM, Maulana Said Wahab, a member of the group’s ruling shura, or council, and spokesman Ameer Izzat were arrested during a raid in the Amandara region of Dir.
But the military would not comment of the arrest of Sufi or his two sons, Rizwanullah and Ziaullah. Kifyatullah, another son of Sufi, was killed by Pakistani troops during a May 7 artillery bombardment in Madain.
The military claimed it knows where Sufi is. A senior TNSM leader told Dawn that Sufi is not in the Amandara region and has possibly gone into hiding.
No leader of the TNSM was identified as one of the top 21 wanted Taliban leaders in the Swat region. Last week the Pakistani government issued a bounty for Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Swat Taliban and Sufi’s son-in-law, and 20 other senior commanders.
The Pakistani government claimed it has eliminated the second and third tier leadership of the Swat Taliban. But no senior leader of the Swat Taliban has been detained to date.
TNSM responsible for the failed peace agreement
Sufi Mohammed and the TNSM are responsible for the failed peace agreement under which the Pakistani government ceded control of a large swath of northwestern Pakistan to the Taliban, but which resulted ultimately in the ongoing military operation that has displaced more than 2 million people.
The agreement, known as the Malakand Accord, called for the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army from Swat, the release all Taliban prisoners, the withdrawal of any criminal cases against Taliban leaders and fighters, and the imposition of sharia in the Malakand Division, a region that encompasses more than one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province, including Swat, Dir, Buner, Chitral, and Malakand.
The TNSM is a front group for the Taliban. In April, the TNSM spokesman admitted that the group can control the Taliban’s actions. “We have not asked the Taliban to take up arms, but the government would be held responsible for any resurgence of violence in Swat,” Izzat said while discussing the peace negotiations.
Sufi, who is supposed to be the impartial arbiter of the peace agreement, shed the façade of impartiality after defending the Taliban following a series of Taliban attacks and kidnappings on government security forces and government officials.
“The Taliban are doing nothing wrong,” Sufi said after the Taliban killed two soldiers in March. “The government is responsible for violations.”
The government continued to negotiate and unilaterally implemented legislation that allowed for the imposition of sharia, despite the Taliban’s repeated violations of the ceasefire.