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Archive for May 24th, 2008

Beitullah Mehsud, the head of the militant umbrella organization, Tehreek-e-Taliban, told a group of reporters on Saturday that their jihad would continue in Afghanistan, since “Islam does not recognize boundaries.” His announcement comes just days after Pakistani authorities and militants signed a peace agreement, [see previous post] in Swat. Although Mehsud emphasized his Taliban-linked militants would uphold this ceasefire, they would continue to attack foreign forces across the border. The AFP quoted the leader stating, “In the fight between Pakistani forces and Taliban, both sides are suffering, it should come to an end.”

Do these statements validate U.S. and NATO fears that Pakistan’s peace agreement will provide militants a base to launch attacks against foreign forces? Arguably so. However, the Tehreek-e-Taliban is technically upholding their end of the bargain, [despite a recently reported roadside bomb in Peshawar], which includes recognizing the government’s authority and halting suicide attacks. But today’s statement will nevertheless exacerbate Washington’s feelings towards this peace process. How should Islamabad respond? On Saturday, the Daily Times cited statements by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who noted on Thursday that there “is a difference in opinion” between Pakistan and the United States on how to tackle the militant problem. Commenting onĀ  Washington’s concern about the peace talks, Zardari emphasized, “People have had bad experiences in the past. So they are not acting out of malice, they’re acting out of past experiences… One has to find a better model. I refuse to believe that there is not a better model available.”

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