A New Experiment Or A Repeated Mistake in NWFP?

Posted on April 23, 2008
Filed Under >Manzoor Ali Shah, Politics
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Manzoor Ali Shah

The NWFP government has released the banned outfit Tehreek e Nafaz e Shariat e Mohammadi (TNSM) incarcerated leader Maulana Sufi Mohammad on Monday, in a new bid to reclaim some of its lost territory in the restive Swat district and tribal areas.

ANP led coalition government of the province has been adamant that they would solve Taliban insurgency through dialogue and both the parties have hinted on many occasions that they are engaged in dialogue and talks are heading in right direction.

Deals with militants are not new and in the past provincial and federal governments also tried to broker peace with militant through dialogue.

The Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) led government of the Frontier in May 2007 signed a peace deal with Maulana Fazlullah, son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad and leader of Swat insurgency, which collapsed after the operation against Red Mosque in Islamabad and government, had to launch a military operation in the district in October last year to regain control, which is still going on.

Sufi Mohammad release has brought to the limelight the government attempts to bring the peace back to the province ravaged by the militancy, through negotiation and it also intends to replicate this model to tribal areas and engage the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of militants’ outfits fighting the security forces in the country.

However, in the past three deals had been signed with the Taliban militants in the North and South Waziristan, but all collapsed.

Sufi’s release came after a jirga of TNSM met the provincial government officials and Sufi agreed to follow a six point agenda for peace in Malakand Agency.

An active member of Jamaat Islami (JI), he established TNSM in 1992 after he quit (JI), and he gained such clout that his followers tried to enforce Sharia in the Malakand Agency in 1994 and several people were killed in clashes with security forces. Among other things, his version of sharia also included driving on the right hand side and his followers disrupted the regular flow of traffic all through the area by forcing people to drive in wrong lanes.

In 2001, during the American invasion of Afghanistan, he took around 10, 000 people to fight American forces in Afghanistan, but most of them were either killed or captured by the Northern Alliance.

He was arrested along with a dozen supporters in October 2001, on his return to Pakistan, after his disastrous Afghan campaign and later convicted for seven years in prison in 2002.

Since then, he was languishing in Dera Ismail Khan Jail and was shifted to Peshawar last autumn and lodged in the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) in tight security. ANP led coalition government, which came to power after February 18 elections, started negotiations with TNSM and released him on Monday, but at present it is not clear, that could he be useful in normalising the situation.

It is also a question that he would be able to influence his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of Swat militancy, popularly known as ‘Radio Mullah.’

Author is a Staff Reporter for Daily Times, Peshawar Bureau.

25 Comments on “A New Experiment Or A Repeated Mistake in NWFP?”

  1. faraz Waseem says:
    April 23rd, 2008 12:45 pm

    “Among other things, his version of sharia also included driving on the right hand side and his followers disrupted the regular flow of traffic all through the area by forcing people to drive in wrong lanes.”

    thats interesting ;)

  2. Fahim says:
    April 23rd, 2008 12:49 pm

    It seems to me the ANP led govenrment should first consider whether the militants consider them as equals.
    I doubt that they do. These militants have a mindset which believes their’s is the right way, so how can dialogue really work for them other than as a time saving technique for the militants?
    Only way to win with them is win their followers away from them by illustrating to them that their way is nihilistic and doesn’t really serve Islam or them or their country.

  3. Tina says:
    April 23rd, 2008 2:30 pm

    Isn’t Fazlullah the yokel who doesn’t want kids inoculated against polio and insists that women have no right to leave their houses except for medical treatment?

    Bright group of people. Oh, and they’ll be sure to honor any deals made with them.

    The old story of the scorpion and the frog comes to mind.

  4. Ayaz Siddiqui says:
    April 23rd, 2008 2:46 pm

    The funny thing is that the democratic minded ANP govt/party is not ready to mend fences with MQM becuz they are terrorists. On the other hand, there is no problem in dealing with these militants. Why? becuz they are Pashtuns? Where is the logic or principle in any of our politics

  5. Salim says:
    April 23rd, 2008 3:09 pm

    In the 21st century, making deals with Pope,Rabbi or Maulana while enjoying the fruits of secular genius and scientific (also secular) advancement, from around the globe. Is this how a nation will find itself?

  6. Akif Nizam says:
    April 23rd, 2008 3:20 pm

    Might as well donate the province to Afghanistan. Maybe we can get a tax deduction out of it.

  7. April 23rd, 2008 3:27 pm

    govt of Pakistan has been making sensible moves to deal things with dialogues rather copying strategy of right wingers of US and create disturbance in region.

    when we can sing songs of peace with our old “enemy” India which includes infinite hindu fanatics then why not tribesmen who are our own people. They are not lesser Pakistani than us.

  8. April 23rd, 2008 3:32 pm



    an interesting piece appeared few days ago on bbc urdu:


  9. Riaz Haq says:
    April 23rd, 2008 4:26 pm

    I hope that these negotiations are part of a larger strategy to neutralize the rising influence of extreme mullahs in Pakistan rather than to buy temporary peace that makes the new government looks good for the moment. In the past, these NWFP mullahs aligned with AQ and Taleban have used cease-fires to regroup and rearm for a bigger assault on any one who disgrees with them. They have engaged in indiscriminate murder and mayhem of the unsuspecting Pakistanis going about their business in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi etc.
    These guy are completely merciless in their total disregard for the sanctity of human life which is a basic tenet of Islam.

  10. Shayan says:
    April 23rd, 2008 9:57 pm

    @Adnan Siddiqi
    what this but-they-are-our-pakistani-brothers argument leaves out is that they chose to take up arms against the government. for us to negotiate with them sets up a horrible precedent for any person who wants to impose their ideas on a nation of over 160 million people.

  11. Fahim says:
    April 23rd, 2008 11:21 pm

    By the way, for the sanguine types you might like to know that Jim Sinclair’s been saying for aewhile the US will attack Pakistan…


    Jim Sinclair

  12. Hossp says:
    April 23rd, 2008 11:55 pm

    Pakistan in general is between a rock and a hard place. Since 2001 the Pak army is trying to solve this issue. By now we all know that they failed to achieve anything. The Tribal area is sliding under quickly and if no corrective measures are taken, we might see the US army or the NATO armies either entering the area or bombing the hell out there. We know via media that Mush and by that token, since he was the COAS then, the army pretty much allowed the US to bomb the area whenever the US felt necessary. We also know that unfortunately, we cannot even prosecute Mush and the army for this act of treason.

    Now we need to look at what choices the civilian govt has. It is under enormous US and the Pak army pressure to maintain Musharaf and the Pak army policy of Carte Blanche to the US to do what it pleases in the area. If the civilians follow that policy, and the US continues to bomb that area, the Pakistan public would lynch them. While the army and Mush know that they can easily “manage” the public opinion by unleashing the state power on the public. The civvies don’t have this option. If the US starts bombing again the civilian government will have no choice but to either resign or fight back. In view of our past experience with the Pak army and Mush, we know that they will refuse to fight the US and instead roll out another emergency and remove the civilians from power.

    So the the only real option for the civilians is to somehow manage to bring these rebel in line for as long as they can. The civilians need time to get a grasp of the situation and find alternate ways but they can’t do it, if they are being fired upon from every side.
    The negotiations with these rebels wont hurt right now but if there are no negotiations and the fight goes on, the likelihood of the US interference increases manifold.

    Possibly, these guys will go back to what the do best and start another jihad but with tons of money and accommodation here and there, many can be bought off for maintaining the peace. So at this time this policy is the only reasonable policy.

  13. Hossp says:
    April 24th, 2008 12:11 am

    Daily Times and its editors have been taking a pro-army line in Pakistan for sometime. On reading Daily Times editorials and other content carefully, one can see a clear attempt to undermine the civilian govt and find wedge issues to emphasis the problems between the PPP/PMLn alliance.
    Yes, they have problems but the need is to keep this alliance together and not sabotage it. The alternative is Mush or the army.
    Pakistan needs to maintain excellent relations with the US but not at the cost of a civil war in Pakistan or in some parts of Pakistan.

  14. Aamir Ali says:
    April 24th, 2008 12:30 am

    A fake and temporary peace gained through appeasement of militants. These agreements will fail just like the peace agreements in Lal Masjid, Swat and Waziristan. The militants are merciless animals, they will not change their ways.

  15. April 24th, 2008 1:12 am

    what this but-they-are-our-pakistani-brothers argument leaves out is that they chose to take up arms against the government. for us to negotiate with them sets up a horrible precedent for any person who wants to impose their ideas on a nation of over 160 million people.

    @Shayan: according to your theory, there should be a brutal and bloodiest crack down agaisnt MQM as well which has always challenged writ of the government? but then you would not support it because MQM belongs to left wing secularist cult of Pakistan. yeah right!

  16. faisal says:
    April 24th, 2008 2:22 am

    When army and security personnel were getting killed in the operation against MQM in the 90s the entire Urdu speaking community was looked upon by the rest of country as traitor, everyone would say, how dare they kill our Jawans? Now that these merciless, ignorant, drug selling, goods smuggling, wife beating, bushwhacking mullahs are doing that they are becoming Mujahideens and folk heroes.

    You negotiate with people who willing to listen, learn and compromise. These mullahs wont listen to anyone making any sense. They live in a fantasy world of their own making. Anyone dares reason with them is like asking to go to heavenly virgins before their due time.

  17. BelligerentPacifist says:
    April 24th, 2008 3:15 am

    I see some posters here are confusing the TNSM with the Wazir fighters. They’re apparantly not the same and don’t have the same demands. Someone from Swat told me the TNSM just wants changes in the local judicial system. Why can’t they militate(struggle) for that?

  18. jk says:
    April 24th, 2008 9:40 am

    BelligerentPacifist > Militate does not mean struggle. Can you please share more information with me about who the TNSM are and what their history is?


  19. Jamshed Nazar says:
    April 24th, 2008 9:59 am

    The core issue is that both the Pakistan Army and the mainstream public in Pakistan cannot take any more of these suicide bombings. This is resulting in the apeasement policy.

    This is very similar to Iraq where the Amercians have talked to the Sunni and Shia militants after Amercian soldiers body bags caused public support for the Iraq war to plummet.

    Since the Americans are not direct causalities in Pakistan, they keep asking for “Do more”. However, for Pakistanis, in the abscense of any counter mechanism to control suicide bombings, the only option left is to try to contain the militants in their areas of FATA and to control the spill over in the settled areas.

    Containment is a correct policy at this time since it allows peaceful co-existance between militants and the rest of Pakistan. Especially in the wake of secular government taking over in Pakistan, there is no chance of radicalisation of mainstream Pakistani society. The distinction between us and them becomes quite clear and containment makes sense.

    However, the problem is the backdoor links of the Pakistani militants across the border to Afghanistan. In the abscense of a worknig formula for co-existense in Afghanistan between the Karzai / Nato and the Taliban, conflict would continue over there and the safe heavens across the border in Fata would cause Nato and the US to strike in the Fata areas resulting in “Do More”, reluctant Pakistani Army action and the consequential suicide bombings in Lahore / Pindi etc.

    Perhaps the TAPI pipeline could bring the warring factions t othe table. shared revenues out of the pipeline should allow peaceful working agreements in Afghanistan for co-existance and may result in long lasting peace. Ultimately, economics and trade may drive the conflict in afghanistan to a nagotiated settlement.

    However, in order to reach such a conclusion, the parties need to recognize each other – Nato needs to recognize the Militants as a potent force and the Militants need to recognize Nato and the US.

    It is clear that neither party can kick out the other one from the ground. Suicide bomdings have brought in a stalemate scenario and the sooner this is recognized by all parites, the better.

  20. BelligerentPacifist says:
    April 24th, 2008 4:29 pm

    Hello jk,
    What does militate mean then? I was going to say fight but I put it softer. We see where I live students ‘militate’ all the time for their demands from the faculty or even the ministry.

    About the TNSM, I told almost all I heard. And that was from a local and a sort of insider so i believe it true.
    That Mr. Sufi used to be in/with the Jama’at e Islami (i presume in really olden days, say the 70s) but broke away saying the party was just trying to land seats and wanted no real reform.

    Swat as I said isn’t in FATA. It’s and Dir’s history is different. These were princely states which merged as late as early 60s into pakistan and their local laws got supplanted. But since Pakistani law never works out, not atleast before 30 years time per case, they want their own local judiciary system in Swat. Something like before. Something in which murderers were handed over to the victim’s family to dismember! Okay made the last part up!

    But don’t be fooled that they’re not inspired. Demands don’t naturally go from verbal to military as if a switch has been flicked. If not the americans, we need to somehow keep the indians out of afghanistan and baluchistan.

  21. April 25th, 2008 7:42 am

    What do liberals say about this invasion?


  22. Malique says:
    April 28th, 2008 5:01 am

    This TNSM is more of an idea-based organization than a personality cult based entity.And ideas can’t be killed,they can be suppressed but better still they can be channeled onto a more compromising and peaceful road.This deal shall be welcomed as a first,not last step of progress..The real deals remain to be made.Government needs to bring change in the mindsets than just ask these militants chiefs to stop what they were doing.

  23. Gill says:
    May 1st, 2008 1:58 pm

    “It is also a question that he would be able to influence his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of Swat militancy, popularly known as

  24. Rania says:
    January 27th, 2009 9:26 am

    I am very glad to see these useful information of New Experiment. These information is very workable and excellent.

  25. syed nizam says:
    February 16th, 2009 7:31 pm

    First, You pplz decide whats real shariat? And then, apply it to whole of pakistan. So everyboday in this world will know what are the fruits of shariat law. Thats , TERRORISM !!

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