print
memri
March 31, 2009 No.
432

Details of the 15-Point Draft Agreement between Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani Government

By: Tufail Ahmad*

On March 25, 2008, Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan People's Party was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan. His government is advocating dialogue with the Taliban, as is the secular government of the North WestFrontierProvince.

Recently, following an understanding, the Taliban commander in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan, Baitullah Mehsud, distributed a pamphlet directing the Taliban to shun all provocative activity that could threaten law and order in the region. [1] Baitullah Mehsud heads militants from his Mehsud tribe in the tribal district of South Waziristan; the organization that issued the pamphlet has been named as Tehreek-e-Taliban Waziristan. [2]

The pamphlet appeared amidst wide speculation that the Pakistan government is holding talks with Mehsud, who was declared a fugitive by a Pakistani court for his involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

At this time, the details of the draft of an agreement between Beitullah Mehsud and the Pakistan government are emerging, as reported by the London edition of the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Ausaf.

Following are the highlights of the draft agreement: [3]

Roznama Ausaf reported that the draft of the 15-point peace agreement was discussed during a meeting in Islamabad between the leaders of the Pakistan People's Party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N), and the Awami National Party, and was "approved with the support of the military establishment."

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is a partner in the federal government led by Prime Minister Gilani, whereas the Awami National Party is a secular Pashtun party that came into power in the North West Frontier Province, which borders the federally administered tribal districts.

According to the report, "as per the agreement, the [Pakistani] government will release extremist prisoners [Taliban] and withdraw its troops in a phased manner from the [federally administered tribal district of] South Waziristan. In return, Baitullah Mehsud has guaranteed total peace."

The agreement will be signed by the political administrator of South Waziristan, on the behalf of the government. Tribal elders nominated by Baitullah Mehsud, who belongs to the Mehsud tribe, are to sign the accord on his behalf. The political administrator is the federal government's representative in the tribal district, while the Political Administration is the local executive authority that governs the district.

The agreed points include:

1. The government and security forces will neither target the Mehsud tribe nor destroy their assets and machinery.

2. The Mehsud tribe will not kidnap any government representative or military official.

3. The Mehsud tribe will open roads so that paramilitary forces can move around.

4. The Mehsud tribe is responsible for its members' non-involvement in terror activity in any part of Pakistan.

5. The Mehsud tribe will not aid/shelter in its areas anyone who seeks to engage in terror-related activity, nor will it use its areas for terror-related activity.

6. The Mehsud tribe will not create a parallel administration, nor will it challenge the writ of the government.

7. The political administrator will resolve the tribe's problems as per the tribal customs and traditions and as per the [1901 British Law] Frontier Crimes Regulation, and this will be acceptable to the Mehsud tribe.

8. The Mehsud tribe will expel all foreigners in its areas, and will not allow its region to be used as shelter for militants.

9. Within a month of signing the agreement, the expulsion of foreign elements will begin; if the process is not completed, the tribe will receive a one-month extension.

10. The Mehsud tribe will not obstruct regional progress and will assist the government with the completion of developmental programs.

11. The Mehsud tribe is responsible for protecting local and foreign officials working on the government-run development programs in the region.

12. The Political Administration and the Mehsud tribe will issue joint reports on the likelihood of the presence of training camps for militants and of the preparation of terror attacks.

13. If the Mehsud tribe fails to eliminate suspicions of militant training in the area, the government will have the right to take action as per tribal customs and traditions and the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

14. The exchange of prisoners of both sides will take place after the signing of this agreement. The government will release all prisoners from the Mehsud tribe.

15. Government troops will begin phased withdrawal from the region of Mehsud tribe after the agreement is signed.

According to the Roznama Ausaf report, the agreement was reached with the complete understanding of the country's political leadership and military establishment.

* Tufail Ahmad is the director of MEMRI's Urdu-Pashtu Media Project.

Endnotes:

[1] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 24, 2008.

[2] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 24, 2008.

[3] Roznama Ausaf (London), April 24, 2008.