Explaining Fazal Saeed’s ‘defection’ in Kurram

Published: July 8, 2011

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata asad.munir@tribune.com.pk

A bit of background about Kurram Agency, where a military operation is currently underway against militants, may help understand what is happening there presently, especially with regard to the apparent defection of Taliban commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani. The agency was part of Afghanistan until 1879. Most parts of Central Kurram were administratively inaccessible and the area was known as Frontier Region (FR) Kurram until 2002. Sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shias has unfortunately been a regular feature of Kurram. Unlike Upper and Lower Kurram, Central Kurram is inhabited by only Sunni tribes. In 2005, Fazal Saeed Haqqani from Uchat Killy raised a Taliban force in Central Kurram. The local Taliban were already operating in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai and Bajaur but the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had not been formed yet. Fazal Saeed had close links with Baitullah Mehsud. On the creation of the TTP in December 2007, Hakeemullah Mehsud was appointed as commander of the Taliban in Kurram and Orakzai, but Fazal Saeed remained the local commander.

In April, November and December 2007, Kurram Agency witnessed the worst-ever sectarian clashes and hundreds were killed. The main road linking Parachinar with Thall in Hangu in the settled area has remained closed for almost four years. Locals of Upper Kurram have to travel via Afghanistan if they want to go to Peshawar or any other parts of the country.

In July-August 2008, sectarian clashes again erupted. The Taliban forces of Hakeemullah, from South Waziristan, Orakzai and Darra entered Kurram and fought against the Shias. In these clashes, besides Shia casualties, more than 60 Taliban were killed. A grand jirga, with representatives from all the tribal agencies, and the parliamentarian from Kurram, was constituted in 2008 and in October of that year, the so-called Murree Peace Accord was signed by all warring factions.

There were elements within and outside the agency, including Taliban, who never wanted this accord to be implemented. Hectic efforts by the jirga, MNA Munir Orakzai , other parliamentarians from the area and the political agent, led to acceptance of the terms of the accord, though not by Hakeemullah and the local Taliban. The Thall-Parachinar Road eventually reopened in February 2011. Hakeemullah demanded huge sums of money from Fazal Saeed Haqqani for the Taliban fund, and the latter expressed an inability to provide the money. On March 26, 2011, the Taliban attacked three vehicles heading from Peshawar to Parachinar and kidnapped 22 Shias, and the road was closed again. Hakeemullah wanted these prisoners to be handed over to him so that he could receive ransom money in exchange for their release, which Noor Mohammad, Fazal Saeed’s deputy, refused — he also killed eight of the hostages. Hakeemullah removed Fazal Saeed Haqqani from the command, Noor Muhammad was killed and a man by the name of Siraj Quraishi was made commander. In retaliation, Haqqani formed the Tehreek-i-Taliban Islami Pakistan and severed all contacts with the TTP.

Now the real hold in Central Kurram is of Hakeemullah, Tariq Afridi and the Taliban from Orakzai and Darra. Haqqani and his force have been marginalised. The army operation, initiated on July 4, is aimed at clearing the region of militants who have indulged in kidnapping and suicide attacks on security installations and forces, and to reopen the road to Parachinar that had been virtually cut off from the rest of the country. The operation in Central Kurram is likely to neutralise the resistance pockets of Taliban still operating in the Mamoozai area of Orakzai Agency. Had an operation been conducted in North Waziristan without securing Central Kurram, the foreign militants and the Pakistani Taliban in NWA would have shifted to this area and Orakzai.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Roflcopter
    Jul 9, 2011 - 3:33AM

    Fazal Saeed is a good guy. He should join forces with Pak army.

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  • Talha
    Jul 9, 2011 - 3:51AM

    You should have been a General.

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  • Amazed
    Jul 9, 2011 - 10:23AM

    The way you presented Fazl-e Saeed’s case, it seems he’s the only kind, pious but helpless child of a ruthlessly disciplinarian father with ten other strictly obedient children. Kudos to you. Why should not Fazl-e Saeed’s guided lashkar be merged in the army?

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  • Adi
    Jul 9, 2011 - 12:07PM

    Thank you sir for this useful information…

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  • Feroz
    Jul 9, 2011 - 2:22PM

    Very confusing ! Who are the good Taliban and who are the bad ones. The Army operation in Khurram is targeting which Taliban ? Nice to know that Fazal Saeed is a good guy by FATA standards I presume. Since no journalists are allowed there where is all this information coming from – the talking Parrot.

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  • Aftab
    Jul 9, 2011 - 2:38PM

    On March 26, 2011, the Taliban attacked (the Fazal Saeed version) three vehicles heading from Peshawar to Parachinar and kidnapped 22 Shias, and the road was closed again. Hakeemullah wanted these prisoners to be handed over to him so that he could receive ransom money in exchange for their release, which Noor Mohammad, Fazal Saeed’s deputy, refused — he also killed eight of the hostages.

    The story absolutely does not mean that Fazal Saeed is a good guy, he was with Army, or he should had been the head of the Lashkar, as considered above by my friends. He is another gangster, the decoyed and the wicked person just like Hakimullah Mehsud.

    This is the real face of Taliban, they grow opium to sell drugs, kidnap people for ransom, brutally kill Shias because they are Shias (I am a Sunni), kill women because they are weak. This is why they are called terrorist, the thugs and the curse upon the earth of Allah.

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  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Jul 9, 2011 - 6:13PM

    There are no good guys or bad guys, only strong guys and weak guys. When weak guys need help they pose as good guys.

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  • Jul 9, 2011 - 6:20PM

    BOSS is alway RIGHT.

    An army jawan can’t say “NO” to his Boss.
    Suppose this is true what is written by the writter, then,,,
    should we assume that Fazal Saeed is a good guy???
    But he has been in TTP for a löng time.If he was working under Hakimullah,then he should follow orders.
    He was following the same orders in the past.But when he was replaced by an other comander,then he is blaming TTP.
    If TTP is involved in ransom etc[according to fazal Saeed],then why he remained in TTP so far?
    “BOSS is always right”
    But Fazal Saeed said “NO” to his BOSS.
    What is the fate of an army jawan,who said NO to his Boss?
    Does Fazal saeed deserve that???
    …..#…..#…..#….#….#…..

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  • Bangash
    Jul 9, 2011 - 8:57PM

    All Taliban are trash.

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  • Hassan Farooqi
    Jul 9, 2011 - 9:17PM

    Disinformation. Haqqanies are part of the Afghan Taliban (real Taliban) and were never part of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (fake Taliban). The former fighting Americans in Afghanistan, and the latter fighting Pakistan Army and carrying suicide bombs on Shias and Non-Wahhabi Sunnies. The former are militants, and the latter are terrorists. The former are pro-Pakistan and the latter anti-Pakistani. The former freedom fighters, and the latter full of RAW and Mossad agents. TTP was created by CIA agent Mehsud who also served as a infiltrator in Guantanamo Bay. The purpose of TPP is to confuse Pakistanies between the two and made them stop supporting Afghan Taliban. Also to make a case that Pakistan is unstable and therefore the nukes are not safe and should be taken over by the West to give India the controlling power.

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  • DeBajaur
    Jul 9, 2011 - 9:20PM

    I dont understand why these Retired Brigadiers think they know too much about FATA. It takes them an hour of Internet Surfing (mostly Wikipedia) to write an “ANALYSIS”. Lolllllssss.
    Let me point out at least two “AMENDMENTS TO HISTORY” made by the learned Brigadier in the article.
    1) “The agency was part of Afghanistan until 1879.”
    Now this is a STRATEGIC Information Blunder. Kurram has never been a part of Afghanistan. Rather, not a single agency of FATA has ever been (directly) part of Afghanistan. A loose tribal alliance between Tribesmen did exist but FATA areas have always been historically under (or loosely linked with) India and not Afghanistan.
    2) “Most parts of Central Kurram were administratively inaccessible and the area was known as Frontier Region (FR) Kurram until 2002.”
    Another Intellectual Blunder by the Analyst. He invented a whole new Region (F.R Kurram). No part of Kurram has ever been called F.R Kurram. In fact KURRAM AGENCY was created in 1892 by the British. There has never been any area called F.R Kurram.
    ………………..
    Apart from these “Amendments to History” made by the learned Brigadier, there are some other factual mistakes or misrepresentations too in this article.
    @ ET: You should check the basic facts, at least, before publishing anything and everything. Any good book on the history of “North West Frontier of India” would confirm the facts.

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  • Alisherzai
    Jul 10, 2011 - 5:54AM

    @DeBajaur.You are wrong and the writer is right on both account.Our area was always known as FR kurram, till on our demand, the Governor Iftikhar Sha renamed it as Central Kurram,As for bring part of Afghanistan,it was and an Afghani Governor use to rule. Wikipidia do not always give you the correct history.Please check your facts before writing any comments.By the way bajauris are not Tribals.

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  • Hassan Farooqi
    Jul 10, 2011 - 8:31AM

    @Alisherzai: If Kurram Agency was part of Afghanistan during the times of the British, the Afghanistan was part of India. Ever heard the name “Hari Singh Nalwa”? lol. Do you know why he was called “Nalwa”. Do you know how Afghans used to hide on the mention of this very name? If you need to go back in history, you need to go back completely, not to the part that suits you.

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  • Khushal Khan
    Jul 10, 2011 - 10:06AM

    Central Kurram was not part of Kurram Agency till 2001,and was a Frontier Region known as FR Kurram.Kurram was handed over to British by the Afghans through Gandamak Treaty signed in 1879,with a condition that part of revenue will be shared with Afghan Government.DeBajaur you need to read history,apparently you do not know the history of Bajaur,which was also part of Afghanistan,though there were three Khans ruling the area.

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  • Alisherzai
    Jul 10, 2011 - 10:48AM

    @Hassan Farooqi,i have not gone back in history ,but have just commented on the two wrong historical observations made by DeBajaur.Please read the comments again.

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  • qamber
    Jul 10, 2011 - 3:48PM

    Fazlesaeed parted ways with taliban after his refusal to share the ransom money with Hakimullah massod.It is an established fact that Turis paid 3crores and 25 laks of rupees to Fazlesaeed.Three crores for the Turis and 25 Laks for the four guests from Mardan.One of those guests was a professor from peshawar university.His name is Murad.This account can be confirmed by the writer from the professor mentioned above.For the information of the learned writer Fazle Saeed is the first cousin of Munir Aurakzai,the MNA from central kurram who comes from village MANDURI which is about 2 km from village UCHAT ,the permanent living place of Fazlesaeed.The learned writer is also informed that Fazlesaeed owns a petrol pump,which still does a booming business as all other petrol pumps are closed;courtessy of the …………..

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  • zarin
    Jul 10, 2011 - 4:54PM

    The best way is to create new Agency in FATA with the name of Lower Orakzai Agency comprising the current Central Kurram previously called FR Kurram with suitable place like Murghan or any other to be capital city. It will help administrative structure and best facilities to the area which was also called Alaqa Ghair. They will have own Political administration and funds. The creation of new city will provide best oppertunities to the peoples. This can also decrease secrarian tecsion in the region.

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  • Bangash
    Jul 10, 2011 - 7:11PM

    @ DeBajaur, a Chinese Proverb for you:

    Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, most fools do. Do you regret writing your comments?

    @Qamber.Very well written comments.Its a news for me that Fazal Saeed is a cousin of MNA Munir.Are you sure?

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  • Awan
    Jul 11, 2011 - 9:53AM

    Good! Informative piece by Asad Munir

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  • Muhammad Zai
    Jul 19, 2011 - 12:28AM

    This is quite stupid that everybody here got involved in their own problems neglecting the article what it really means.The Brig. is trying to tell us what really is happening in Kurram. who are the war lords ,who are the stake holders and what army is going to do next. This is what he is telling us. you people got involved in your own tribal conflicts,kurram is a part of afghanistan, kurram is not a part of afghanistan ; Bajauris are tribals , not tribals and bla bla bla. What is this? read the article first carefully and think over it what it really means.Dont grab one another collars. Hopeless.
    thanks mr. Brig. for useful information.

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  • Omar
    Aug 1, 2011 - 11:50PM

    @Hassan Farooqi: Can you please tell me why he was called Nalwa? Having visited ‘wikipedia’ – i realise he was part of the short sikh rule of peshawer and his name was Nalwa

    so why do you think was he called nalwa and pathans used to hide from him?

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