A Pakistani general exchanges a Koran with a tribal leader during a prior peace deal in Waziristan. Photo from The Associated Press.
It has been known for some time that the government brokered an agreement with North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar just prior to the operation that was launched against the Mehsud branch of the Taliban in South Waziristan in mid-October. The military needs to have Bahadar as well as South Waziristan commander Mullah Nazir on the sidelines so the military’s convoys don’t have to fight their way through to reach the Mehsud regions from the North and Southeast.
According to a translation we’ve obtained from a press report in Aaj Kal, a Pakistani newspaper published in Urdu, a “a three-point peace agreement has been inked” between the government and Bahadar “after one month long secret negotiations.” Here are the terms in exchange for the Taliban’s neutrality:
1) The government will release Taliban prisoners (note, no names have been disclosed; in the past the government has released members of al Qaeda and other terror groups as well). The Taliban will also release any government and security officials held captive.
2) The military will “dismantle the Frontier Constabulary checkpoints.”
3) The military will be allowed to send a convoy into the region to conduct “surveillance” one week out of the month.
Unlike past agreements, there is no mention of the sheltering of al Qaeda or “foreigners,” or even a mention of aiding the Mehsud Taliban who enter North Waziristan.
The government is, of course, denying the existence of any agreement with the Taliban, just as it has done in the past. Instead, the government insists the deal is made with tribal leaders, who are then asked to ensure such agreements are upheld.
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