Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kurram peace deal

Kurram peace deal

Sunday 20th February 2011 | Rabi-ul-Awwal 16, 1432


AS new details emerge about the behind-the-scenes brokering that have nudged the Kurram Agency peace deal along in recent weeks, the role of the Haqqani network has come to the fore. Because of the historical sectarian tensions in the agency, much of the fighting in recent years has been characterised as `sectarian` and `local` in nature. In truth, however, the arrival of militants in the area in recent years began a new fight for control of Kurram Agency, much like traditional power structures in other parts of the tribal areas were challenged and overrun by militants seeking to establish their own writ. Having failed to wrest control of key areas in the agency, the militants turned to negotiations, with the ever-present Haqqani network helping broker a deal.

What the Haqqani network stands to gain from such a role can only be speculated about. Perhaps arrangements on the Pakistani side of the border could be linked to new developments on the Afghan side, where the national government has been keen to engage the militants/insurgents in dialogue. Or perhaps anything which improves the standing and influence of the Haqqanis in Pakistan`s tribal areas is perceived as good by certain quarters here responsible for trying to bring Fata under state control. Two things ought to be kept in mind, however. First, in dealing with Fata the state will sometimes have no good choices and may be forced to hold its nose and work with whoever can help bring some normality to the area. That is the unfortunate reality in an area which has been keep at an arm`s length from the rest of Pakistan since the country`s creation. Two, while understanding the tactical necessity highlighted above, there is a larger need to keep in mind what makes for good strategy. Long term, anything that helps any militia further its influence in Fata cannot be good for the Pakistani state. Thirty years of tweaking and `arrangements` in Fata have led to the gravest internal security threat this country has ever faced. The security establishment here must understand that there are no `friends` of Pakistan among militants.