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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Talks with TTP to derail peace, say chieftains

The tribal chieftains and warlords have termed any backdoor peace negotiations with the militants as detrimental to striving peace in the region saying that such moves would ?jeopardise efforts for the elimination of terrorism.?
The reports that Pakistan was striking backdoor negotiations with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a notorious militant outfit based in Pakistan?s north-western tribal region, have mounted concerns of tribal warlords who have joined hands with Pakistan Army to form armed militias or peace lashkars for taking on militants. A good number of the lashkar men have lost lives at the hands of militants following kidnappings and killings of pro-government tribal chieftains particularly those from Mehsud, Afridi and Wazir tribes.
Reuters on Monday had reported that TTP was holding exploratory peace talks with the government. The news agency quoted a senior Taliban commander as saying the discussions are focused on the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border and could be expanded to try to reach a comprehensive deal if progress is made. The Taliban, who are close to Qaeda, made several demands, including the release of prisoners and the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from South Waziristan, the report said. ?If successful, we can talk about a deal for all the tribal areas,? Reuters mentioned the Taliban commander as saying.
Pakistan military?s media wing Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) responded with a grim denial. ?Strongly and categorically refuting the media reports, a spokesperson of ISPR said that Army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP or its affiliated militant groups. Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded, he added. Any contemplated negotiation/reconciliation process with militant groups has to be done by the government, the spokesperson concluded,? an official statement said.
Talking to this newspaper on Tuesday, Wazir tribe chief in South Waziristan Malik Idrees Khan said making peace with militants was ?An insult to martyrs who went down fighting terrorism.?
?I?m not sure about the authenticity of these reports but I hope and believe that these are false. Who to make peace with? The militants? We?ve seen the result of those peace agreements in the past. It would not only jeopardise our efforts for the elimination of terrorism but create resentment among tribes who have sacrificed their sons.?
The peace agreements with militants during former President Pervaiz Musharraf oversaw strengthening the militants who established their influence across major parts of FATA.
The Pakistan Army launched two major military offensives Raah-e-Raast and Raah-e-Nijat followed by a series of small-scale operations to take on militants. In North Waziristan, Pakistani establishment has struck a reported informal ceasefire with militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a move resisted by tribal leaders.
Mehsud tribe chief in North Waziristan Dilawar Khan Mehsud said that peace in FATA would remain to be a far cry unless the tribal militias assisted Pakistani forces. ?Security agencies alone cannot succeed. They need our help to fight down terrorism because we the locals know who?s who, here. Negotiations with militants without involving us would not be without implications and we oppose reconciliation with them.?
Tribal militia and Afridi tribe chief in Khyber Agency Misri Khan Afridi said, ?It would be very unfortunate if the reports of backdoor peace deal proved true. We were the one to create tribal lashkars with army?s support and to convince our tribesmen to join hands with military for safeguarding our soil. How would we face our tribesmen if retreat is on the cards? Now that we have laid down our lives and property, there?s no way to retreat.? Slain tribal head and Misri Khan?s elder brother Mota Khan Afridi was gunned down by militants from Mangal Bagh led-Lashker-e-Islami in an ambush in Khyber Agency June this year. ?Time and again we?ve been assured by the military officials that there would be no peace with militants.
Political Agent SWA, Javaid Khan Marwat, said the decision to hold dialogue with any militant group stayed with the federal government. ?Its not for the political administration to deal with these kind of issues. We are working in close coordination with security forces to weed out terrorism.?

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