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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Halt attacks on Pakistani military: Siraj Haqqani

The Long War Journal Blog

Click to view slide show of som of the Haqqani Network's top leaders. Pictured is a composite image of Siraj Haqqani.
Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, and a member of a Taliban alliance that spans the tribal Pakistan's areas and eastern Afghanistan, has ordered the Taliban to abide by its peace agreement with the Pakistani military and cease its attacks on the security forces. Siraj's statement confirms what the Pakistani government has denied: the Taliban and Pakistan have entered into a peace deal.
Siraj issued the order under the aegis of the Shura-e-Murakeba, an alliance that was formed in January and consists of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which is led by Hakeemullah Mehsud and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud; Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group; Mullah Nazir's group; and the Haqqani Network. The Shura-e-Murakeba was formed with the aid of on of al Qaeda's top leaders.
The statement, which was distributed in the form of a pamphlet in North Waziristan, was obtained by The Associate Press.
"In North Waziristan, we are all in agreement with the Pakistani government, so we are all bound to honor this agreement and nobody is allowed to violate it," the pamphlet said. Siraj said that "anyone who violates the agreement 'will dealt with as a culprit,'" according to AP.
The Shura-e-Murakeba was officially formed in early January after months of negotiations between the various terror groups operating in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas, as well as al Qaeda [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda brokers new anti-US Taliban alliance in Pakistan and Afghanistan]. The members of the Shura-e-Murakeba agreed to cease attacks against Pakistani security forces, refocus efforts against the US, and end kidnappings and other criminal activities in the tribal areas.
The formation of the Shura-e-Murakeba was brokered by senior al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al Libi; another senior al Qaeda leader known as Abdur Rehman al Saudi; Mullah Mansour, a top Taliban leader who operates in eastern Afghanistan; and Siraj. Mullah Omar, the overall leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is said to have dispatched Siraj and Mansour to help negotiate the agreement.
The Pakistani military and Interior Minister Rehman Malik have previously denied it was in talks with the Taliban.In December 2011, Malik had said that the Taliban must lay down their weapons and end attacks in the country before any talks could proceed.
And in November 2011, the Pakistani military issued a press release that "strongly and categorically" denied it was conducting talks with the Taliban [see Threat Matrix report, Pakistani military denies role in talks with Taliban.]
"Strongly and categorically refuting media reports, a spokesperson of ISPR [the military's public affairs branch] said that Army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP [Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] or its affiliated militant groups. Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded," the statement said. "Any contemplated negotiation/reconciliation process with militant groups has to be done by the Govt, the spokesperson concluded."
From 2004-2009, the Pakistani military and government have signed numerous peace agreements with the Taliban in the past in the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Mohmand, Arakzai, Kurram, and Khyber, as well as in settled districts in the northwest, including in Swat. The peace agreements gave the Taliban control over the territories, but stipulated that the Taliban must recognize the government, end attacks on security forces, and refuse shelter to al Qaeda and other foreign terror groups. The Taliban refused to abide by the terms of the agreements.

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