INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS woke up on September 5 to unsettling news. The government of Pakistan, they learned, had entered into a peace agreement with the Taliban insurgency that essentially cedes authority in North Waziristan, the mountainous tribal region bordering Afghanistan, to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Just ten days later, the blow was compounded when the government of Pakistan released a large number of jihadists from prison. Together, these events may constitute the most significant development in the global war on terror in the past year--yet the media have taken little notice.The article also observes:
For four years, the Pakistani military engaged in a campaign to assert governmental control over Wazir istan. The cost to Pakistan has been considerable; some intelligence sources believe this fighting has exacted a higher death toll on the Pakistani military than U.S. forces have sustained in Iraq. It is in this context that Pakistan gave up on South Waziristan last spring, abandoning its effort to control that area. Thereafter, sharia law was declared in South Waziristan, and the Taliban began to rule openly.
Yet even in the wake of Pakistan's earlier surrender of South Waziristan, this new agreement, known as the Waziristan Accord, is surprising. It entails a virtually unconditional surrender of Waziristan.
The agreement is, to put it mildly, a boon to the terrorists and a humiliation for the Pakistani government. Even the circumstances under which it was signed point to Pakistan's impotence in the face of a determined adversary. Taliban fighters searched government negotiators and military officers for weapons before allowing them to enter the meeting, which took place in a soccer stadium in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah. According to three separate intelligence sources, heavily armed Taliban were posted as guards around the ceremony, and al Qaeda's black flag hung over the scoreboard.
Immediately after the Pakistani delegation left, al Qaeda's flag was run up the flagpole of abandoned military checkpoints, and the Taliban began looting leftover small arms. The Taliban also held a "parade" in the streets of Miranshah. Clearly, they view their "truce" with Pakistan as a victory. It is trumpeted as such on jihadist websites.
And with good reason. The accord provides that the Pakistani army will abandon outposts and border crossings throughout Waziristan. Pakistan's military agreed that it will no longer operate in North Waziristan or monitor actions in the region. Pakistan will return weapons and other equipment seized during Pakistani army operations. And the Pakistani government essentially paid a tribute to end the fighting when it agreed to pay compensation for property destroyed during combat--an unusual move since most of the property that was destroyed belonged to factions that had consciously decided to harbor terrorists.
. . .Musharraf's retreat from Waziristan and release of prisoners suggest he may be losing his grip on power. And as bad as Musharraf has been of late, things would be far worse if, in a critical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, a relatively pro-Western leader were replaced by al Qaeda-linked fundamentalists.Needless to say, read the rest. (Hat Tip: IRIS Blog)