Why peace deals in Fata will not work

Published: October 6, 2011

The writer is a security and intelligence affairs analyst. He retired as a brigadier and served in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

The All Parties Conference has decided to initiate dialogue with its own people to negotiate peace in the tribal areas. No state should use force against its own subjects if the issue can be resolved through dialogue. However, unfortunately, peace agreements, enacted with tribal and militants, did not work in the past.

A bit of recent background is in order. From November 2001, following Afghanistan’s invasion by the Americans, and till March 2002, foreigners entered Waziristan in large numbers. Their local tribal facilitators were identified by the political administration and were asked to expel the foreigners. The facilitators, however, did not oblige and instead absconded. The following month, negotiations were held with the elders of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe and that is when the target killing of prominent maliks by the terrorists began. The tribe agreed to support the use of force against the terrorists and raids on suspected terrorist hideouts were conducted that April.

A few tribals from Waziristan had been crossing the border and fighting with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. Apart from them, Pakistani jihadis, particularly the Harkatul Mujahideen and the local jihadi tribals, offered these foreigners — mostly members of al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Turkistan Islamic Movement — a support system. Initially, most of them were taken by their local facilitators to different cities. But after a few months they started moving back to South Waziristan and by end 2002 the agency had become al Qaeda’s headquarters. Unfortunately, the state did not play its role of protecting its citizens, and in due course of time the tribals had no choice but to accept the rule of the Taliban.

However, raids against al Qaeda and the Taliban continued in other agencies and settled districts, and more than 400 terrorists and their facilitators were detained from Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan was hence thrust into a situation that it had never experienced before. Dialogue was chosen as the preferred option. A number of IMU foot-soldiers were inclined to surrender as long as their security was guaranteed and the Shakai Agreement of 2004 had a clause which allowed them to be registered so that they could be accommodated as refugees and given shelter and food. However, at the last moment, under pressure from the Afghan Taliban, al Qaeda and the IMU leadership, Nek Muhammad refused to sign the agreement.

The next agreement was with Baitullah Mehsud, in Febuary 2005.The agreement lasted for a few months and was used by Baitullah to consolidate his ruthless rule. Yet another agreement was signed in September 2006 with the militants of North Waziristan. One clause, about not crossing the border and conducting terrorist activities against coalitions forces, was common in all such deals. The militants were also asked to expel foreigners from the Agency, and in case they were not expelled, they would have to live as peaceful citizens. The terrorists of al Qaeda took full advantage of this clause. They came out of hiding and started roaming around openly in Mir Ali Bazar. And instead of crossing the border from North Waziristan, they would continue their cross-border incursions from the adjacent Kurram Agency. In 2008, another agreement was signed with the Mehsud tribe, again for the expulsion of foreigners from their area, but it failed because Baitullah had become too powerful by then. In Bajaur too there were peace negotiations and these only ended in strengthening the Taliban of that agency so much that they took control of most of it.

What needs to be done now is that a jirga of the Wazir, Dawar, Saigi and Kharseen tribes of North Waziristan should be convened by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor. The tribe should be given a reasonable period of time to expel all foreign and local militants from their territory. In case they fail, targeted operations, based on reliable intelligence should be conducted in the agency. This is more in the interest of Pakistan than America — for the simple reason that securing North Waziristan will deny space to terrorists, dilute their capabilities, and is likely to weaken the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and its allied jihadi and sectarian outfits.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Oct 7, 2011 - 12:00AM

    We have short memories, the people are blinded with anti-Americanism and shall passionately act in the opposite manner to what the great satan demands.

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  • Aslam afridi
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:33AM

    Salam.I do not agree with most views of author. Operation against terrorists should be conducted but only after united state flee from afghanistan. For the time being they should be allowed to cross afghanistan like afghan terrorists who cross pakistan and attack us. If we started operation this time then all afghan taliban will reach north waziristan from afghanistan to support pakistani taliban. Result will be not different than 2001-2007 when pakistani soldiers were being killed in hundreds weekly while american and Nato soldiers were enjoying club and dance parties in afghanistan. Look afghanistan casualties website and u will find 710 nato soldiers killed in year 2010 more than previous combined 7 years. Also when this time if we start operation then India and west will have breathing space to put last nail in our coffin by improving India sponsored afghan national army to completely encircle us. Last question what we got when we helped united states against taliban. Answer is 1. Do more 2. Thousands bomb blast 3. Thousands pakistani death 4. Fata went out of our control. 5. Our 2 laks army on west border with increase military expenditures. 6. Thousands school destroyed 7. Civil nuclear teachonlogy with India and America. 8. Anti pakistan gov in kabul. So we should start operation when is better for us. If we tell united states and west to start operation against christian extremist when they make cartoons and ban niqab and burn Quran then they will not obey us. So every decision be taken by us instead of orders from west. ThanksRecommend

  • Shahid Jamil
    Oct 7, 2011 - 2:19AM

    The author needs to clarify the position taken by General Orakzai in this regard. He seems to disagree with him and is quoted extensively by Imran Khan.

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  • Realist.
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:30AM

    We have short memories, the people are blinded with anti-Americanism and shall passionately act in the opposite manner to what the great satan demands. [2]
    TTP ALWAYS tries to cover more ground & re-develop During Negotiations.
    NO to Negotiations with those who have our blood on their hands.

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  • Ch.Jalil
    Oct 7, 2011 - 9:07AM

    Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and on the slogan “Pakistan Ka Matlab Kiya;La Ilha Illah”.The Quid himself said that the Quran will be our Constitution.For 64 years we have not been able to enforce Sharia in this country.Except for Army rule, the CJ should implement sharia through a court verdictRecommend

  • All BS
    Oct 7, 2011 - 9:58AM

    Thank you for the analysis…BUT I went to seminar in Marriot not many months ago in which General Orakzai and Aftab Sherpao claimed that the peace accords were broken due to government and American bombing. Recommend

  • Plaintalk
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:23AM

    @Aslam afridi:
    You are right. When the country is our own, we may take whatever action we deem proper. But if action is taken which is perceived to be under alien dictates then it is sure to backfire. Besides, if the aliens vacate occupation, perhaps the current militancy in the tribal area will automatically vanish despite any foreigners in the are. The cancer is the “coalition.”

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  • Plaintalk
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:32AM

    @Realist.:
    Realist is wrong. Who actually sabotaged the deals? What Gen. Orakzai said about it? Our blood is on their hands and theirs is on ours. Did they start killing “us?” Or we attacked them first and were killed in fighting? Besides, did our fighting with them as the direct consequence of any dispute (as in Swat) or when we acted as America’s mercenaries?

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  • Farooq Khan
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:55AM

    Gen Orakzai gave them free hand and they entrenched themselves. How a wrong man at the job can create a long lasting problem for the whole nation. Negotiations will not work. Ahmad zais do not have the will and strength to implement any peace deal. When the author says sufficient time, what is in his mind. 3 agreements and 9 years of time was not sufficient?

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  • Danish
    Oct 7, 2011 - 2:23PM

    i hope imran khan is taking note ……

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  • kamran
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:03PM

    Pakistan wil have to root out the terrorist because they are a threat to our national security. A so called national asset which can be used anytime to dismember us. Secterianism, drugs ands ethinic violence was all supported by the agencies in Pakistan which have short not smart / wise solutions for Pakistans problems. we need a strong federation with peiole granted fundamental right, a strong judiciary, and a strong political goverment, and the most of all please document the country’s ideology. cz till yet its just vague.Recommend

  • Sehar Tauqeer
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:07PM

    Very Well said Brigd. Asad Sb. There is no way to have peace deal with them , deal is dine with the humans not barbarian animals !

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  • Jan Bangash
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:18PM

    @Plaintalk You are not current on TTP.They have already announced that even on withdrawal of US Forces,we will continue with our activities till Sharia law is enforced in the country.Whom should the Government talk to?Fazalullah, whose Taliban have killed thousands of Pakistani and not a single American.He is in Afghanistan but instead of fighting against Coalition,he is killing,innocent Pashtuns from Dir.Faqir?Who has killed his own people from Bajaur?Hakeemullah,who has killed a great leader like Benazir? Negotiations would fail,the writer has given the whole history of peace talks.If Gen Orakzai had not been at the helm of affairs,there would have been no Taliban.Ask the Pashtuns who are directly affected by these beasts.

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  • Hassan
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:54PM

    Brig sb, the whole premise of your argument is based on that peace deals havent worked in the past, my questions is ten years of military action hasnt worked either so any suggestions to what we should do or is this op ed just against peace talks!!!!!

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  • Oct 7, 2011 - 5:06PM

    All they wanted was Qazi system and not British system which take 10 years for a case in good days and 30 days on worse. Everyone outside FATA is so afraid of this system yet they cry for law, order and timely justice in Pakistan.

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  • Jan Bangash
    Oct 7, 2011 - 5:17PM

    @Hassan Not ten years but two and a half years,since serious operations have been initiated.During this period the Army has done a wonderful job,which should have been done in 2004/2005.Now only North Waziristan is left.The terrorists are on the run.If at this stage negotiations are initiated,we are likely to be back in square 1.

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  • Armughan Hussain
    Oct 7, 2011 - 5:21PM

    ive me a single example from world’s history where army operation has given the desired results??? Just one example…………………………………… from Billion years of since the creation os earth. One single example please.

    In army solutions, you have to annihilate the opponent completely. Both type of opponents, overt and covert. otherwise, armies can never win the heart of people.

    Ok, tell me a single successful operation by Pakistan army since 1947, you got to defeat the opponent on theoretical levels, you got to win the war of minds.

    Ok you choose one from the following.

    1948 till now Against Balochis?
    1950′s operation in Lahore and Punjab to stop the growing intolerance against the Qadiyanis? Was state able to stop that growing intolerance?
    The operations against MQM in 1990s?
    the 1970s operations in East Pakistan?

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  • Aamir
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:03PM

    All previous peace agreements with Taliban failed. There were no drone attacks in Kurram, Mattani, Swat, Buner or Dir, yet all agreements there failed as well.

    Lots of people in Pakistan with short memories and desire for shortcuts. The fighting by militants did not end when USSR/USA left in 1989, why would anyone expect militants to stop fighting after Coalition leaves in 2014 ?

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  • Suleman
    Oct 8, 2011 - 6:26AM

    No offense meant here but I totally disagree with the author. Please do not forget, that the people of tribal belts have equally participated in the Independence movement of Pakistan, just like other Pakistanis. People of tribal areas have suffered more and still feeling vulnerable, security-wise because the Taliban fighters have often targeted their Maliks and Members of tribal peace committees. I think It’s our government’s responsibility now to negotiate with forces of darkness there and to provide us a nest like quality home environment, everywhere in Pakistan.

    (Common Citizen of Pakistan)

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  • Shabo
    Oct 8, 2011 - 9:13AM

    The Taliban has always taken advantage of peace talks. They want power and will not on exit of US. Asad Sahb thank you for the analsis.

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  • Awan
    Oct 8, 2011 - 11:12AM

    Well written by Brig. Asad

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  • ayesha
    Oct 9, 2011 - 11:35AM

    @Ch.Jalil:
    Do you not remember what happened in Swat? It wasn’t that long ago you know.

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