Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peace in FATA and PATA?

Two of the top stories in the Pakistani Newspaper The News are about truces between the Pakistani Taleban and the government. In Swat:
The government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Swat chapter, on Saturday agreed to a permanent ceasefire in the militancy-hit Swat Valley after Maulana Fazlullah accepted the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, leading the government to announce the reopening of schools and return of the internally-displaced persons.
(This is disputed - sort of - by a story in the New York Times)
and in Bajaur:
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Bajaur chapter, on Saturday offered to renounce militancy and remain peaceful if the ongoing military operation against them was stopped. According to tribesmen, the operation has caused more losses to them than the militants.

The government had launched a full-fledged military operation, involving jet fighters, gunship helicopters and artillery guns, against the militants in Bajaur on August 6, 2008, causing displacement of around half-a-million people. The operation, however, inflicted heavy losses on the militants.
And then there is is this from the Dawn newspaper:

WANA: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Chief Baitullah Mehsud has resolved his differences with two rival factions in Waziristan and formed a joint front.

The decision was taken at a meeting attended by Baitullah Mehsud and his rivals Maulvi Mohammad Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Maulvi Nazir from South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North are said to be in good books of the federal government.

There have been agreements signed before but this smells different. It could be because the US seems to have changed its position on the Pakistani Taleban. Until now they have been mostly indifferent leading to conspiracy theories in Pakistan, especially in military circles, alleging US collusion with the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP). However, recent weeks have seen Predator attacks in areas where the TTP is supposed to have training camps. That, or the Pakistani army's claims of success in the fighting in Bajaur and Mohmand are actually true and the TTP is feeling the pressure. Or something else. Or nothing.

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