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- Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - From Print Edition


LAHORE: Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief operational commander of Haqqani network, has conceded for the first time the existence of a peace deal with the Pakistani security establishment as per which the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and several other militant groups won’t attack the Pakistani troops and instead would focus attention on the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.


The revelation came in the form of a statement issued on Sunday last by Sirajuddin Haqqani whose militant network allegedly operates from North Waziristan and has an anti-US agenda.


The United States accuses the Haqqani network of using the Pakistani soil to attack the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan and that too with the alleged backing of the Pakistani security establishment.


In his statement, Sirajuddin Haqqani directed the Pakistani Taliban to stop attacking Pakistani security forces in accordance with a peace agreement, thus giving credence to media speculations that the Taliban-linked militants and the military establishment have struck a clandestine ceasefire, especially after Islamabad’s decision to suspend the Nato supplies going to Afghanistan [in the wake of the November 26, 2011 Salala air strike which killed 25 Pakistani soldiers].


According to well-informed sources in jehadi circles, Sirajuddin Haqqani issued these directives under the aegis of Shura-e-Murakeba (Observation Council), an alliance of five Pakistani and Afghan militant groups consisting of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Commander Hakeemullah Mehsud; Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Haqqani network led by Sirajuddin Haqqani and the militant groups of Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir. The Observation Council was launched on January 2, 2012 after lengthy talks between various jehadi groups operating in eastern Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.


The militant circles in Pakistan say the moving spirit behind the formation of the Observation Council was Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Ameer of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the shadow Taliban government) with a view to resolve differences among various factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and garner support for the ongoing battle against the US-led forces in Afghanistan.


Mulla Omar was worried by the increasing number of Pakistani Taliban diverting their attention from Afghanistan to Pakistan and making it difficult for the Afghan Taliban to continue their resistance against the powerful Nato and Isaf forces. The Ameer of the Afghan Taliban wanted the Pakistani Taliban groups to focus on Afghanistan, where their fight against the foreign forces was in a decisive phase.


The formation of Shura-e-Murakeba has taken place at a time when the US-led forces in Afghanistan have already begun to execute a significant withdrawal of forces from the war-torn country while seeking peace with the Taliban. Besides making a pledge to stop their fight against their own armed forces and instead focus their attention against the US-led forces in Afghanistan, the components of Shura-e-Murakeba had reportedly also agreed to end suicide attacks, kidnappings for ransom and killing of innocent people, particularly in the militancy-hit tribal areas of Pakistan. Therefore, Sirajuddin issued the February 12 statement under instructions from Mullah Omar. In his statement, which was distributed in the North Waziristan Agency in the form of a pamphlet, Sirajuddin warned that some elements are trying to destabilise North Waziristan by firing rockets and exploding remote-controlled bombs and other such improvised explosive devices.


“Through a well-organised conspiracy, the peaceful law and order situation is being aggravated in North Waziristan. Through this pamphlet, all the Mujahideen (militants); i.e., Ansaar (those being provided shelter) and Mohajireen (the refugees) are informed that we had signed a peace agreement with Pakistan in North Waziristan and it is compulsory for every one of us to follow that truce.


Nobody would be allowed to violate the accord and if someone is found violating it, he will be treated as a culprit and stern action would be taken against him”, said the one-page Urdu language statement issued on the letterhead of the Observation Council.


All these developments belie repeated denials by the Pakistani military spokesman who had strongly refuted media reports that the security establishment was holding peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or its affiliated militant groups. “Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded,” a recent statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations spokesman had claimed in November 2011 while refuting reports of peace negotiations between the Pakistani military and the militants. “Any contemplated negotiation/reconciliation process with any of the militant groups has to be done by the government”, the spokesman had added.