Pakistani President Endorses Swat Deal With Taliban
On Thursday, Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani admonished critics that his government had not endorsed any peace deal with the Taliban in the Swat Valley:
Pakistan has not done a peace deal with the Taliban in Swat Valley. Period. Pakistan has negotiated an arrangement, locally, with the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammedi of Swat. The president of Pakistan has not signed the agreement and not approved the agreement yet because he’s waiting for the TNSM to fulfill its end of the bargain, which was, essentially, to make sure that the Taliban — whose leader happens to be his son-in-law — they do not continue to use force. Since that has not happened, the agreement has not been enforced.
That was then, reports The Wall Street Journal:
President Asif Ali Zardari effectively ratified the government’s deal with the Taliban Monday by signing a bill that imposes Islamic law in Swat, a key plank of the accord, hours after legislators overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging it. Pakistani officials have touted the deal, reached in February, as a way to restore peaceful order in the bloodied region — which lies just a few hours’ drive from the capital — and halt the Taliban’s advance.
The whole Journal piece really deserves to be read and digested. It’s a stark look at how Swat is an unambiguous safe haven for the Taliban and affiliated extremists. As a U.S. official puts it, the peace deal makes the valley “a rest stop for the Taliban.” If the flogging video wasn’t enough, this quote, from a Taliban spokesman named Muslim Khan, should leave doubt about life under the Taliban:
Mr. Khan, the Taliban spokesman, predicted there would soon be more executions, showing off a list of people whom the Taliban want to try in Islamic courts for what he called their “anti-Islamic” ways. The list includes senior government officials, a woman whose husband is in the U.S. military, and others. Many of them have fled or are in areas outside Taliban control
“These kinds of people should not live,” said Mr. Khan, who also is a commander in the Tehrik-e-Taliban, a broader Taliban alliance focused on battling the Pakistani government.
We’re still waiting to see what sort of benchmarks, if any, the Obama administration will place on aid to Pakistan as the Zardari government cedes territory to the Taliban. The hopeful scenario is that, as Haqqani indicated last week, this is a period of retrenchment for the Pakistani government, as well as the Taliban, preceding some sort of strike. But perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.