Friday, April 25, 2008

Peace Agreement in Pakistan Imminent

The government of Pakistan is apparently very near to agreeing to a peace deal with Taliban miltiants in Pakistan's western provinces:

A 15-point draft of the accord, which was shown to The New York Times, called for an end to militant activity and an exchange of prisoners in return for the gradual withdrawal of the Pakistani military from part of the tribal region of South Waziristan.

Even as the accord, a far-reaching draft that essentially forbids the tribes from engaging in nearly all illegal actions, was being negotiated by the government through tribal elders, the militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud, ordered his fighters to cease their activities in the tribal regions as well as the adjoining North-West Frontier Province, warning of strict punishment of any violators.

According to the draft document, the deal would be signed between the political administrator of South Waziristan and the tribal elders of the Mehsud tribes there.

It would require the Mehsud tribes to cease attacks and stop kidnapping military and government officials, to open all roads and to allow freedom of movement to the Frontier Corps, the local security force. They would also promise not to carry out terrorist acts in Pakistan, including the tribal regions, and not to assist others in attacks, or allow their territory to be used for antistate activity.

The draft requires the Mehsuds to respect state authority and resolve any problems through the local political administration, which would respect local customs and cooperate with tribal elders. It also requires the Mehsuds to assist the government in development plans for the region.

It also requires the Mehsud tribes to expel all foreign militants from their territory and deny them shelter in the future. The document says that the expulsion of foreign militants would begin within one month of the signing of the agreement, but a month’s extension could be granted for good reason.

There is no mention of ending cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

That's a slight problem for us, as we rely heavily on Pakistan's security forces to interfere with the operations of Taliban militants in Pakistan, as well as their movement across the border in Afghanistan to support the insurgency there. As you can imagine, American officials are none to happy to hear about this. But one unanswered question is to what degree we will be permitted to continue missile attacks (and other covert operations which are probably being carried out) in Pakistan. Is the government of Pakistan giving us a wink and a nod? Or are they telling the militants they have nothing to worry about?

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