Pakistan and the Truth

In an article posted in the South Asia Times we can read the truth behind the truce signed a few days ago between Pakistan and the Taliban. Here are a few excerpts. Click the headline for the full story.

With a truce between the Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad now in place, the Pakistani government is in effect reverting to its pre-September 11, 2001, position in which it closed its eyes to militant groups allied with al-Qaeda and clearly sided with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

While the truce has generated much attention, a more significant development is an underhand deal between pro-al-Qaeda elements and Pakistan in which key al-Qaeda figures will either not be arrested or those already in custody will be set free. This has the potential to sour Islamabad’s relations with Washington beyond the point of no return.

The main problem – and one that has been unreported – was to keep Pakistan authorities’ hands off members of banned militant organizations connected with al-Qaeda.

Thus, for example, it has now been agreed between militants and Islamabad that Pakistan will not arrest two high-profile men on the “most wanted” list that includes Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Pakistan, the leading light in the United States’ “war on terror” and a “most important” non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, is returning to the heady times of before September 11 when it could dabble without restraint in regional affairs, and this at a time when Afghanistan is boiling.

The truce between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan has been a bitter pill for Washington to swallow, although Pakistan’s pledge to allow foreign troops based in Afghanistan hot pursuit into a limited area in Pakistan softens the blow a bit.

Islamabad’s overriding concern, though, is to earn some breathing space domestically, as well as get Uncle Sam off its back.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz recently visited Turkey and then Lebanon, where he announced that his country would not send any peacekeeping troops to the latter. Ankara then said that if peacekeeping forces tried to disarm Hezbollah, Turkey would pull out of the peace mission. These decisions are the result of back-channel diplomacy among Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Across Pakistan’s border in Afghanistan, the Taliban have control of most of the southwest of the country, from where Mullah Omar is expected soon to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the name of the country before the Taliban were driven out in 2001. Once the proclamation is made, a big push toward the capital Kabul will begin.

There’s a great deal more to this story that should be read for an insight into what is actually going on in that part of the world. Click here for the full story.

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