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Archive for October 17th, 2008

Today, media outlets reported that rival tribes in the Kurram Agency [see CHUP’s past piece on the status of the Kurram Agency, by Jehan Riar] signed a peace agreement. According to Dawn, the warring Bangash and Turi tribes “agreed they would vacate occupied bunkers and return to their respective areas. In the case of a violation of the agreement, the offending tribe would have to pay a fine of sixty million rupees.” The jirga between the tribes was first held in Islamabad and then Murree. Dawn noted, “Fifteen members each from the Shia and Sunni groups also participated in the jirga, which included 23 members from a reconciliation delegation.” The news agency reported,

According to the declaration, roads closed for the last one and a half year would be reopened, Shia and Sunni groups would return to their areas, all bunkers would be controlled by the Frontier Constabulary and the dead bodies would be exchanged between the tribes.

The agreement pledges to essentially end the fighting between the tribes, which has “claimed thousands of lives in the past year,” reported GEO News. Parts of the Kurram Agency, particularly Parachinar and surrounding areas, have been suffering from a blockade, which has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, [again, see Jehan’s post, link above]. According to Dawn, “Peshawar-Parachinar Road will be opened today, with the declaration assigning responsibility for its security to the government.”

In other security-related news, several media outlets reported that the Pakistani Taliban are willing to sit down and hold “unconditional talks” with the Pakistani government, essentially meaning they are willing to negotiate an agreement without any conditions on the table. BBC News cited Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Mullah Omar, who told the news agency on Wednesday, “We are willing to negotiate with the government without any conditions…We are also willing to lay down our arms, once the military ceases operations against us.” According to Dawn‘s coverage, Mullah Omar also said the “local Taliban did not want foreign militants in the region and would help government to remove them. ‘We can set up a Shura (elders) committee to liaise with the authorities in removing such people,’ he said.” Moreover, reported the BBC, the spokesman said “it was useless to debate the security situation in parliament without taking the Taliban into confidence.”

Given the deteriorating security situation as well as the military’s progress [in weeding out the militant stronghold] in Bajaur, is sitting down with the Pakistani Taliban something the government should consider? We have seen in the past [particularly the very recent past], that ceasefires and negotiations with militant groups have fallen apart, or have given these organizations space and time to regroup. Will reaching a ceasefire, despite the lack of conditions, be different this time around, [see below poll]:

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