Descent into Appeasement
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Since Pakistan's new government came to power earlier this year, it has noticeably accelerated efforts to negotiate with and enter into accords with militant groups. While one can construct a case for negotiating with Pakistan's extremist groups, none of the talks in this new round address the problems of failed past agreements such as the September 2006 Waziristan accords. Rather, the current negotiations are likely to bolster the Taliban and al-Qaeda -- and create a more dangerous situation for Pakistan, for coalition forces in Afghanistan, and for U.S. citizens who will face an elevated risk of a catastrophic terrorist attack.
My colleague Bill Roggio and I have an article in the new issue of The Weekly Standard examining the current negotiations, and the implications for American security. An excerpt:
The Taliban violated each of the conditions of the now-infamous September 2006 Waziristan accords. It used the ceasefire as an opportunity to erect a parallel system of government complete with sharia courts, taxation, recruiting offices, and its own police force. Al Qaeda in turn benefited from the Taliban's expansion, building what U.S. intelligence estimates as 29 training camps in North and South Waziristan alone. And, while even the Waziristan accords paid lip service to stopping cross-border attacks against Coalition forces in Afghanistan, the new negotiations often leave this consideration aside. As North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) governor Owari Ghani recently told the New York Times, "Pakistan will take care of its own problems, you take care of Afghanistan on your side."
The first in this new round of agreements was struck with the NWFP's Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (the TNSM or Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law) on April 20 in the Malakand Division. The TNSM is led by Maulana Sufi Mohammed, who was imprisoned in 2002 for providing fighters to the Taliban in Afghanistan (as the TNSM continues to do to this day). The Pakistani government and the TNSM entered into a six-point deal in which the TNSM renounced attacks on Pakistan's government in exchange for the promise that sharia law would be imposed in Malakand. The government also freed Sufi Mohammed.
A month later, Pakistan inked a deal with the Taliban in the Swat district. Led by Mullah Fazlullah (Sufi Mohammed's son-in-law), they have been waging a brutal insurgency in the once-peaceful vacation spot. (More than 200 Pakistani soldiers and police have been killed since January 2007.) The 15-point agreement between the Pakistani government and the Swat Taliban stipulates that the military will withdraw its forces, and the government will allow the imposition of sharia law, permit Fazlullah to broadcast on his radio channel--which was previously banned--and help turn Fazlullah's madrassa into an "Islamic University."
Though the government extracted some concessions from the Taliban, they are so difficult to enforce that Pakistan will likely gain little more than the reintroduction of vaccination programs. (Fazlullah has campaigned against vaccinations in the past, describing them as a Western plot to make Pakistani men impotent.) The promise to close down training camps is certainly suspect.
You can read the entire article here. Other writings on Pakistan:
* My profile of new Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the Middle East Times
* A Middle East Times analysis warning that the triumph of secular parties in the recent North-West Frontier Province elections did not in fact constitute a defeat for the Taliban
* A Weekly Standard cover story outlining the U.S.'s options in Pakistan
* An early analysis of the 2006 Waziristan accords (co-written with Bill Roggio)
May 31, 2008 12:16 AM Link http://counterterrorismblog.org/