Pakistan frees 145 Taliban fighters as negotiations progress

Pakistan appears to be progressing in its efforts to cut yet another peace deal with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Faqir Mohammed, the Movement’s commander in Bajaur, who is closely allied with al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, told Reuters that the government has already freed 145 Taliban fighters, and said he believes that further deals will be struck in the settled district of Swat and in the tribal agencies of South Waziristan, Mohmand, and Arakzai. Faqir also said that Pakistan and Afghanistan should unite in waging jihad against “foreign occupations by non-Muslims,” a thinly veiled reference to NATO in Afghanistan and India in Kashmir. From Reuters:

“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban in the Bajaur tribal agency and the No. 2 commander overall, told Reuters.

“If negotiations succeed and we are able to sign a peace agreement in Bajaur, then the government and the Taliban of other areas such as Swat, Mohmand, Orakzai and South Waziristan tribal region will sign an agreement. Bajaur will be a role model for other areas.”

“We have no wish to fight against our own armed forces and destroy our own country,” he said.

“There has been development in our peace talks, but the government would have to show more flexibility in its stance, and restore the trust of Taliban by releasing their prisoners and stop military operations against them.”

Mohammad said Pakistan had released 145 members of the group as a gesture of goodwill, and the militants had pledged a cease-fire. He added that Pakistan and Afghanistan should unite against what he called foreign occupations by non-Muslims.

It is somewhat ironic that the US, which is pushing hard to negotiate with the “Afghan Taliban,” is concerned about Pakistan’s negotiations. From The Express Tribune:

[White House spokesman] Hayden said that the White House was not in a position to comment on the details of any such talks. “Our overall views on reconciliation are well known as is our view that Pakistan has an important role to play. When it comes to the TTP, we continue to underscore to Pakistan that groups such as the TTP threaten Pakistan and the region,” said Hayden.

The White House spokesperson added, “persistent safe-havens continue to allow Al Qaeda, the TTP and others to destabilise Pakistan.” Hayden also said that “The Pakistani military has made advances against the TTP, and we would not want to see these gains lost. We also continue to be concerned about militant violence against Pakistani civilians.” The White House spokesperson said that they would continue to watch the situation closely.

The US has good reasons to doubt that the Pakistani Taliban will keep its word, however. Past peace deals in North and South Waziristan, Kurram, Khyber, Arakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur, and Swat have all collapsed and only contributed to the growth of both the Taliban and al Qaeda, in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan.

Without a doubt, a peace agreement between the Pakistani government and the Taliban will lead to an increased level of violence in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis have encouraged the Taliban to fight in Afghanistan in the past, and given the current deteriorating relations between the US and Pakistan, there is no reason to believe Pakistan will not continue to do so.

Astonishingly, despite what has repeatedly happened with Taliban peace deals in Pakistan, many US and NATO officials nonetheless believe that the core of the Afghan Taliban (the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network) will be willing to abide by the terms of peace negotiations to be arranged with the West.

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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16 Comments

  • Devin Leonard says:

    We need to cut our ties with these Paki dirtbags and cut their aid to ZERO. The Pakis never were and never are going to be are friends.

  • Jimmy says:

    That means the Pakistan Army just increased by 145 in strength!

  • Bradds says:

    I wonder if future historians will trace the U.S. invasion of Pakistan, ending the WOT, to this overplaying of Pakistan’s hand…

  • C-Low says:

    Been awhile since our last drone strike in Pakiland. I guess we are going to retreat on that issue so the Paks can get their cease fire?

  • suvro says:

    This seems like another proxy front against US – the released Taliban fighters will surely now do more damage in Afghanistan.
    As I have read here, the supply chain to Afghanistan is now only 25% through Pakistan, the rest being through the Northern Network. By 2012 end, it will be 100% through non-Pakistani routes. Will that signify the end of this toxic relationship with Pakistan?

  • JRP says:

    This is an alliance that is forming between Pakistan and the Terrorists, not a peace pact. With the recently announced policy of shooting down drones in Pakistani air space, it is time to pack our bags and get out of Pakistan. Pull our aid; pull our Ambassador; and tell their diplomatic corps to get out of the U.S., just like they told us to get out of their airfield. We need to approach Pakistan the way Israel approaches Iran.

  • Charu says:

    Both NATO and India have options, but just haven’t yet exercised it. For whatever reasons they continue to play by the rules of statehood, which Pakistan feels free to bend and discard while simultaneously seeking protection behind However, it is a matter of time before a global and regional consensus forms that Pakistan, in its current shape and form, is a big enough menace that serious action needs to be taken. This should have begun some 5 years ago when the double game it was playing became obvious, and most certainly after the attack on Mumbai and the discovery of OBL’s whereabouts. However, the wheels of governments grind slow…… but grind they will.

  • ED says:

    Let’s see how this works out for them. They deserve the Taliban. They will be back killing Pakistanis in no time. We need to cut ties with Pakistan.

  • James says:

    This situation just amazes me.
    The title of the article shouldn’t be “Pakistan Negogiate’s . . . “; no, the title should be “Pakistan Capitulate’s to Terror.”
    The current regime’s decision [in DC] to precipitiously drawdown US forces in the region has done nothing but emboldened the terrorists.
    Once again, I will emphatically emphasize that we had better get together with India on this dire situation; [even without the current regimes acquiescence, if need be].
    Where are the Winston Churchill’s of this time period?
    Mark my word. These thugs WILL get control over at least one (or possibly even more) nuclear warheads. The question isn’t if but when. And then the question will be what will we do about it when it occurs.
    The next holocaust could happen in a flash.
    It’s high time and long over due for US to get together with India on this matter.
    To hades with Pakistan.

  • Charles says:

    The best thing to do is to send US planes over the frontier region to ascertain their mineral content.
    Then share that information with the ISI–especially if there are some very valuable mineral or metal deposits.
    The ISI will cast a covetous eye on any mineral or metal finds in Pakistan. Woe to any Taliban soldiers camped on or near the deposits.

  • sports says:

    The Paki’s are proving to be more corrupt than was ever realized. Pathetic…that country deserves every natural disaster that comes their way.

  • Last Man says:

    Taliban/Al Qaeda have declared war against the US and stated our women and children are legitimate targets. Pakistan’s policy is undeniable, supporting Taliban as a strategic asset and providing safe harbor for Taliban’s force multiplier Al Qaeda. Like it our not we’re back to square one, enforcing the Armitage ultimatum be it stated or imagined. Not only a cessation of aid is in play but outright economic warfare. Acts of war against America will be answered even if over the reluctance of Realists, factions of business elites, anti-American Left or the hostility of Great Power rivals. If it’s the gasp of American power so be it. Pakistan must pay.

  • Brian Higgins says:

    Reading the Reuters article, I noticed this: “There was no immediate comment from the administration on whether talks were taking place.” I presume by “administration,” the writer is referring to the Pakistan administration, or is it the U.S. Administration? It can’t be the Taliban administration (yet.) The Reuters article is fairly weak on substance, except for scoring an interview with a Taliban #2. A LWJ article from 3/6/10 claims he’s dead. Different Fakir?

  • Ian says:

    “We’ll see” said the Zen master.

  • Qadeer Ahmed says:

    The US army make up the TTP .Never trust Taliban. These terrorists have killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis. They are the worst enemies of Pakistan than anyone else.
    Pakistan already denies that talks were taking place with Taliban’s. The Taliban have lost war against Pakistan. US always fails to reach them even with the help of advanced surveillance technology and now trying to force Taliban on table talk with the help of Pakistan.
    We cannot talk to the people who you can convince are can convince, not to the murderers, who are desperate to buy time, to reorganize and start butchering again.
    NATO is in Afghanistan and why they are withdraw.

  • David says:

    It hurts that we have been forced to sleep with the Pakistanis to wage war against our enemies. Eventaully we will be fighting in Pakistan, whether it is soon or very far in the future. Its inevitable. I just hope I am still young enough to still GIT some..

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