Scores of children train to become suicide bombers at a camp run by Qair Hussain in Spinkai, South Waziristan. Image courtesy of AfPax Insider.
Do you remember back in April 2009, when Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, tried to assure the world that the Malakand Accord (the agreement that ceded the Swat Valley to the Taliban) had been signed with local tribal elders and religious leaders not affiliated with the Taliban? Here is what Haqqani said in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal back then, as he chastised the US for not providing military aid:
The recent spike of international concern about the threat in Pakistan seems to stem from the recent dialogue between the government of the Pashtunkhwa Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan and a local movement that supported Islamic law but did not join the Taliban’s violent campaign. The goal for this dialogue was twofold — first, to restore order and stability to the Swat Valley; and second, to wedge rational elements of the religiously conservative population away from terrorists and fanatics.
The dialogue in Swat resulted in an agreement that would allow for elements of Shariah to be applied to the judicial system of the Valley, as it has at other times in our nation’s history. This agreement demanded that the native Taliban put down their weapons, pledge nonviolence, and accept the writ of the state. It was a local solution for what some in Pakistan viewed as a local problem.
Let me be perfectly clear here: Pakistan’s civil and military leadership understands that al Qaeda and its allies are not potential negotiating partners. But, as the U.S. did in Iraq, Pakistan sought to distinguish between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements within an expanding insurgency.
But as we knew back when the Malakand Accord was signed in February 2009, the deal was cut with the Taliban. Yesterday, Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of the Awami National Party, which governs the Northwest Frontier Province, said the peace agreement had been made “under duress,” Dawn reported:
“One militant wearing a suicide vest placed himself behind Afrasiab Khattak and one behind Mian Iftikhar (the party’s senior leaders) during the signing ceremony.”
So, according to Ambassador Husain Haqqani, the “rational elements of the religiously conservative population” in Pakistan negotiate while wearing suicide vests?
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