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Pakistan's Bid to Justify Deal With Taliban

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Pakistan has been trying to justify its deal with the Taliban as Governor of NWFP Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, who is responsible for running the affairs of the tribal areas, said that the deal was actually signed with tribesmen not with the Taliban. But the ground reality is that the deal was signed with the Taliban. Many observers here described this as a victory for the Taliban. According to them, with this deal, militancy and terrorism will further increase, but the authorities have not been accepting this. They are saying that a deal with Taliban in Afghanistan should also be signed as this is the only way to bring peace to the country. The most interesting part of the story is that a minister of the United Kindom also extended his support to the deal signed by Pakistan with the Taliban in North Waziristan Agency. The Minister was addressing a press conference in Peshawar, the headquarter of NWFP. But most of the people of tribal areas rejected the deal and described this development as a move to install a Taliban government in the tribal areas. According to them, if war was declared against the Taliban for their negative activities then it should be continued to its logical conclusion.

NWFP Governor Lt.Gen. (Retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai Friday said in unequivocal terms that the recently concluded agreement in North Waziristan Agency was with the Utmanzai tribe of the agency and dispelled the impression that it was inked with Taliban.

Addressing a press conference at the Governor's House , the governor said that the Utmanzai tribe included its Maliks, Ulema and the common people. "The agreement has nothing to do with the Afghan Taliban", he clarified. The agreement before it was inked, was kept secret because some elements were out to sabotage it, he maintained.

Replying to a question, the governor said, a ten member committee has been constituted to monitor implementation of the agreement and added that notice and action would be taken if it is violated. He made it clear that the spirit behind the agreement is mutual trust and expressed the hope that it would work for creating a conducive atmosphere imperative for development.

Referring to the ouster of foreign elements from North Waziristan Agency, the governor said, much before reaching the agreement, the people of the agency had given a message to such elements to leave the area. However, their stand would further be consolidated after the agreement. He said that the foreigners would leave the area but if there is any difficulty in the exit of some of such elements, they would stay there with peace and without making any disturbance. They would also not cross over to Afghanistan, he clarified.

When asked about the people wanted by the government for their unsocial activities, the governor said, after the agreement they would abandon their past activities and would abide by the law of the land. He however, declared that those wanted internationally would not be allowed to stay here. Rather, they would be arrested if found in these areas.

Governor Aurakzai told the media men that all factions related with disturbances in NWA including the International Coalition Partners against terrorism, France and Germany were taken into confidence and they have expressed their satisfaction and have welcomed the agreement.

He told a questioner that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has supported the agreement because it would not only benefit Pakistan but also Afghanistan. He added that if proved fruitful, it could be extended to Afghanistan also. When asked whether cross border violation was discussed with the Afghan authorities during the recent visit by President Musharraf in which he was also included, the governor said, the issue was discussed but since it was not so grave which could hamper bilateral relations. However, President Gen. Musharraf denounced the blame game and said that any such matter could be thrashed out through dialogue.

Referring to the developmental strategy in FATA, the governor said that sustainable development plan has been chalked out for these areas which would be implemented with an estimated cost of rupees 120 billion. The development works would be completed by the year 2015; the governor disclosed and expressed the hope that it would usher in a revolution in FATA.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Office United Kingdom Dr. Kim Howells said Friday afternoon that his country greatly value the recently reached peace accord in North Waziristan by the Pakistan Government and held it a big step forward in improving Pak-Afghan relations.

"An effective attempt has been made by utilizing prevalent traditional tribal system to maintain law and order in the tribal regions", said the UK Minister of State while speaking at Guest Hour Programme of the Peshawar Press Club after his return from a visit to Southern Afghanistan. UK High Commissioner to Pakistan Mr. Mark Lyall Grant was present on the occasion.

He did not agree with a questioner that the peace pact would lead to increasing militancy in the area and said, "It is very very important peaceful and diplomatic move to put the things on right track". UK High Commissioner to Pakistan was made fully aware of the negotiations regarding peace accord before its inking, he said when asked. The Political Agents system, he said was efficiently working in the tribal areas and the peace agreement would provide an advantage to the PAs to have close watch on the activities of the suspected people

Mr. Kim Howells who visited the British Mission in Hilmand province of Afghanistan said this southern province was ruled by the smugglers, drugs barons and warlords and there was no check on the poppy cultivation. "In taking the Taliban and the drug smugglers, Pakistan needs the British Mission in Hilmand to succeed and we need the closest of cooperation and coordination with our Pakistani counterparts", said Mr. Kim from his written statement.

To a question, he clarified that the UK was not in Afghanistan to fight Taliban, it is there only to help the President Hamid Karzai's government in maintaining its writ. "We are there with 36 other nations headed by the United Nations", he said, adding, "This is not UK or US expedition in Afghanistan".

The elements of Uzbek and Chechens in Afghanistan are terrorists who are out to destabilize the democratically elected government of President Hamid Karzai who has effectively extended democratic culture in his country. The militants mostly the drugs barons and smugglers and warlords in Afghanistan did not want extension in the democratic government of Afghanistan. "These elements are minting money in billion of dollars", he explained.

He said the whole world has an interest in ensuring that drugs and terrorists can no longer threaten the stability of Afghanistan. "But as Afghanistan's most important neighbour, Pakistan has the greatest stake of all, the whole world is watching this frontier", he maintained.

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is also (more...)
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