Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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Officials said they were unable to confirm local media reports that Mullah Dadullah, a top Afghan Taliban commander behind the recent kidnapping of an Italian journalists, was also involved.
"Top Taliban commanders have assembled in Wana to negotiate a ceasefire between Uzbeks and local Taliban backed by the government," a local security source told AFP, adding that the tribesmen wanted the foreigners to surrender first.
"There is still a tense stand-off between the rival factions with occasional firing."
BOTh sides agreed to a brief ceasefire late Wednesday to bury their dead.
The fighting started Monday after ex-Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, whom the government says has defected to its side, ordered followers of Uzbek militant Tahir Yuldashev to disarm.
An intelligence official said Nazir had "refused to meet the jirga."
Officials said Yuldashev, who leads a group called the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was formerly a close confidant of Osama bin Laden.
Yuldashev and his men were among thousands of militants who fled the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 and sought shelter with ethnic Pashtun tribesmen in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt along the border.
The tribesmen also raided a private jail used by the Uzbeks and found 188 Kalashnikov rifles, 175 rocket propelled grenades, 1,800 hand grenades and thousands of bullets, officials said.
Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said the official toll given late Wednesday remained steady at 84 Uzbek militants and 30 local tribesmen, including nine civilians, had been killed. Another 83 Uzbeks were captured, he said.
Sherpao said the battles showed the "success of the policy the government pursued in the region for the betterment of tribal people".
Local sources say the government has covertly armed, financed and helped the tribesmen and helped former "jihadi" fighters linked to insurgencies in Indian Kashmir and Afghanistan infiltrate the area. The government denies this.

[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]

Pakistan: Report--'Senior Taliban' Took Part in Waziristan Ceasefire Negotiations
SAP20070323027002 Lahore Daily Times (Internet Version-WWW) in English 23 Mar 07
[Report by Iqbal Khattak: "Ceasefire brokered in Waziristan; Senior Taliban commanders part of ceasefire negotiations"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR: A Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman)-dominated tribal jirga on Thursday brokered a temporary ceasefire between foreign militants and Wazir tribes in South Waziristan, who have been fighting since Monday.
"Both sides have agreed to the jirga demand for a ceasefire," said Niaz Muhammad Qureshi, JUI-F information secretary for South Waziristan. "We are glad that the two sides conceded to the tribal elders and clerics' plea for silencing their guns in order to solve their issues through peaceful means," he added.
Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said that the toll in four days of fighting likely crossed 135 on Thursday. The dead include some 100 foreigners, 25 fighters of local tribes.
Senior militant leaders like Baitullah Mehsud, Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of senior Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, and an unnamed Taliban commander from across the Afghan border reached undisclosed locations in South Waziristan to take part in the ceasefire negotiations. "They are all monitoring the situation and discussing with key local militant commanders how things can be cooled down," said tribal sources.
Tribal sources said that Maulvi Nazir, commander of pro-Taliban tribal militants in Wazir areas, at one point was unwilling to negotiate a ceasefire with foreign militants and their local harbourers. "The jirga members convinced him after hours-long parleys," said sources in Dera Ismail Khan city, 200 miles south of Peshawar.
Security officials in Tank city said that pro-Maulvi Nazir militants on Thursday ambushed two vehicles carrying 12 Uzbek militants, killing six of them in Zarmilan, 35 kilometres south of Wana.
"Other foreign militants fled in the second vehicle while local militants lost two comrades in the ambush," the security officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
Otherwise, the clashes on the fourth day of the conflict were less intense, a military spokesman said. "The clashes continued but their intensity was low," Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad told Daily Times by phone from Rawalpindi.
Wana residents reaching Dera Ismail Khan city said that both sides were manning check-points in Azam Warsak and Kaloosha. "Both sides search you when you pass through areas they control area," Nazar Muhammad, a general merchant in Wana, told Daily Times by phone from Dera Ismail Khan.
Maulvi Nazir was quoted as saying that the foreign militants would be provided shelter as refugees only after they "disarmed" themselves.
"There can be no other arrangement as far as the foreigners' stay in (South) Waziristan is concerned," he told a group of elders who visited him near Wana on Wednesday.

[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of the independent, moderate daily, run by veteran journalist Najam Sethi and published by the Friday Times group. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated hardcopy circulation of 20,000; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]

Pakistan: 'Jirga' Fails To Broker Peace Between Foreigners, Locals in Waziristan
SAP20070324081001 Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English 24 Mar 07
[Report by Dawn correspondent: "130 foreigners killed in clashes: governor"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR, March 23: NWFP Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai has said about 130 foreigners have been killed in the four-day gunbattle between local tribesmen and foreign militants in the restive South Waziristan Agency.
Talking to journalists after conferring presidential awards on nine people at a ceremony held at the Governor House here on Friday, Mr Aurakzai said tribesmen had also captured 62 foreigners. About 30 local people had been killed in the clashes in the Azam Warsak area of South Waziristan since Monday.
Asked if the government would seek custody of the captured foreigners from tribesmen, Mr Aurakzai said: "I don't think so because the situation is very critical." He said that according to government estimates the number of foreigners in South Waziristan was about 200, but it seemed that 400 to 500 foreigners were still living in the area.
He said there were some indications that Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yaldeshiv was in the volatile region. He said tribesmen had now realised that the presence of foreigners was a major obstacle to their progress. "That's why they (tribesmen) took up arms against them," he added.
Earlier, Governor Aurakzai conferred presidential awards on nine people on the occasion of Pakistan Day. Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani also attended the ceremony.
Those who received the awards were Dr Nasim Ashraf, Mohammad Ghalib Nishter, Javed Saifullah Khan, Ghulam Mohammad Qasir, Prof Raj Wali Khan Khattak, Ghulam Nabi, Aleem Roz Khan, Khawaja Khan and Mohammad Gulab Khan.
TANK: A tribal jirga on Friday failed to broker a peace deal between combatant foreigners and local militants to end the four-day fighting in the restive South Waziristan Agency, well-placed sources said.
The sources said talks collapsed when local militant commander Maulvi Nazir linked permanent truce with the surrender of foreign militants residing in the region bordering Afghanistan.
They said Maulvi Nazir had tabled two conditions for a ceasefire - surrender of the foreigners and a guarantee by them that in future they would demonstrate good conduct. But foreigners and their local collaborators turned down both the conditions, they said.
MNA from tribal area Maulvi Mirajuddin, influential tribal cleric Maulna Ainullah, Bakhta Jan, militant commander Baitullah Mehsud and Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of the prominent Afghan commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, were negotiating to broker a ceasefire.

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dawn.com]

Pakistan: 'Ceasefire' Holding Between Locals, Foreign Militants in Waziristan
SAP20070324021001 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 24 Mar 07
[Corrected version: correcting quotation marks in subject line; report by Rahimullah Yusufzai: "Jirga-brokered truce holds in Sourth Waziristan; Combatants give authority to Jirga to end their conflict; Orakzai says 160 killed in fighting"]
PESHAWAR: The ceasefire between tribal fighters and foreign militants backed by their local supporters in Wana area was holding Friday even though emotions were still running high and the situation remained uncertain.
Government officials and members of the peace Jirgas [tribal councils] that mediated the ceasefire Thursday evening concurred that there was no fighting during the night and on Friday. They said both sides were abiding by the ceasefire and refraining from any provocative act that could trigger fresh fighting.
Contrary to claims by government officials earlier that no formal ceasefire agreement had been reached, some of the Jirga members insisted that both sides agreed to stop fighting and give the peace mission a chance to work out a durable solution of their disputes.
Maulana Merajuddin Qureshi, a pro-MMA MNA [pro-Muttahida Majlis-e Amal member of National assembly] from South Waziristan and leading member of the JUI-F [Jamiat Ulema-e Islam--Fazlur Rahman group] delegation that was sent to Wana to broker ceasefire, told The News on his return to Tank Friday evening that both sides had given "Wak' (authority) to the Jirga to help end their conflict.
"Jirga members are maintaining regular contact with the combatants. Nobody should expect quick results in view of the enormity of the task but we intend to keep this issue on our list of high priority," he said.
Apart from peace Jirgas that came from South Waziristan and North Waziristan, Afghan Taliban also played a role in mediating the ceasefire. Prominent among them was Sirajuddin Haqqani, eldest son of former Afghan mujahideen and Taliban military commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani. Tribal sources said his word carried weight and the combatants agreed to the ceasefire largely due to his efforts. They said all the fighters, whether the Uzbekistani militants or their tribal foes and friends, were unanimous in giving authority to the Afghan Taliban for putting an end to the conflict.
Maulana Merajuddin Qureshi also conceded that Afghan Taliban were in touch with the two sides and were keen to put an end to the fratricidal fighting in the Wana area.
However, he conceded that it won't be easy satisfying the local tribesmen under their commander Maulvi Nazeer who wanted all the Uzbekistani militants to leave their area. He reminded that these tribesmen prior to the ceasefire were demanding that the Uzbeks should shift out of the Wana area.
"They were asking the Uzbeks to surrender or face death. After the ceasefire, they are now willing to wait for the verdict of the peace Jirga," he explained. He added that not only South Waziristan but also North Waziristan was becoming inhospitable for the Uzbekistani militants due to their overbearing nature and long presence in these tribal regions.
Intriguingly, the Jirga members described the death toll as far less than that claimed by civil and military officials and duly reported by the media. One of the Jirga members, requesting anonymity, said the tribesmen supporting the Uzbek militants conceded the loss of only three of their fighters and those fighting the Uzbeks admitted losing five of their men. He said the Uzbeks lost four men only. If true, the total casualties in four days of fighting were a mere 12. It was unbelievably low compared to the claims by government officials that more than 150 fighters had died in the reportedly fierce clashes beginning last Monday.
The Governor of NWFP, Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, said Friday that 160 people were killed in the fighting.
It may be added that there never was any independent confirmation of the reported deaths during the fighting in Azam Warsak and its surrounding villages. The figures came from one source and that was the government.
The number of hostages taken by the two sides during the course of the fighting also figured during the peace talks. A Jirga member said it emerged that the hostages were far less in number than those reported in the media. He said the next step after the ceasefire would be to arrange for a prisoners' swap so that the hostages could return to their homes.
According to Jirga members and tribal sources in Wana, the mediators met Maulvi Nazeer and his men separately before proceeding to Azam Warsak and Kaloosha for meeting Noor Islam and the tribesmen backing Uzbek militants.
Usman Jan, a deputy to Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) leader Qari Tahir Yuldashev, was reportedly also present during the meeting in Kaloosha village. The whereabouts of Qari Tahir, head of the Uzbekistani militants operating in Waziristan, were not known. He had sent Usman Jan to represent him in the talks and to give assurance that he wanted peace with the local tribes and was ready to abide by the decisions of the peace Jirga.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; root URL as of filing date: http://www.thenews.com.pk]

Pakistan Tribal Leader Says Ready To Shelter UBL, Omar If They Keep Local Ways
SAP20070421005003 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 21 Apr 07
[Report by Javed Afridi, Mushtaq Yusufazi: "Tribal leader willing to give shelter to Osama, Denies any knowledge of Al-Qa'ida leaders' whereabouts"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
WANA: Leader of the tribal Taliban combating Uzbek militants and their local supporters in the restive South Wazirstan agency, Mulla Nazir Ahmad on Friday said he was willing to give refuge to any foreigner, including Osama bin Laden in the tribal territory, if he pledged to abide by the local tribal customs and traditions.
Mulla Nazir, 32, in his first ever appearance before the media, told journalists from Peshawar, Tank and DI Khan that Pashtun traditions guaranteed such incentive, where people like Osama or Mulla Omar were no exception. He, however, denied links with any of the two or having knowledge about their whereabouts. "I invited you to see for yourself, the changed environment here after the expulsion of foreign militants, who had made the area volatile for its own people.
Let the world know that Wana is now free from foreign militants," he told the journalists. He asked the officials from various government departments, who had left the area due to the turbulence, to return and play their role in the development of the agency. He also urged the government to initiate development work in the area that lost most of the basic infrastructure, especially electricity and telephone installations. He also urged mobile phone companies to start their service in the area.
Regarding recent clashes with the Uzbeks, Nazir said they (Uzbeks) were guest-turned outlaws, who went around killing and robbing tribesmen besides imposing their self-styled Shariah upon them. He said around 150 to 200 Uzbeks were killed or injured including Mufti Abu Bakar, one of their prominent commander. The clashes, he said, also claimed 25 of his men.
Nazir confessed to a limited assistance from the Pakistani armed forces in their fight against the foreign militants that included medical cover and securing the posts vacated by the Uzbeks, but denied their participation in active combat, as claimed by the local tribesmen, who were thankful to the Pakistan armed forces. "We got the freedom yet again. This time, from the Central Asians," Rasool Khan, an elderly tribesman at Azam Warsak, which was referred to as Uzbekistan until the operation began, told The News.
The journalists were shown a private jail of the Uzbeks in the area, which they said was used as a torture cell against their opponents. Mulla Nazir said that a peace committee has been established under him, comprising four other members Commander Mita Khan, Haji Abdul Hanan, Haji Malang and Haji Haleem Ullah, who would ensure expulsion of hostile foreigners and supporters from Wana. "The committee would side with the oppressed and fight against the oppressor," he said. He added the committee would take no action beyond Wana subdivision that includes the areas of the agency headquarters, Zarmilana, Angoor Adda and Shakai.
He claimed that the operation has rid the area of all the foreign elements, which, he said were either killed or made to flee. "They might have gone to Mir Ali (North Waziristan) or Afghanistan," he predicated.
Responding to a question, he said the Afghan Taliban attempted to negotiate between them and sent a delegation headed by Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of a prominent Taliban commander Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani. "Haqqani proposed a solution in accordance with Shariah, which Tahir Yaldashev (Uzbek supreme leader) refused," he claimed, adding they too refused to settle for less. The tribal leader said he did take part in Afghan war alongside the al-Qaeda-backed Taliban in Afghanistan before the US invasion in 2001 and claimed to have duel nationality of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. "I still pay frequent visits to Afghanistan as I have home in Birmal town of Paktika province and own property in Kandahar. I played there was as an Afghan citizen," he explained.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; root URL as of filing date: http://www.thenews.com.pk]

Asia Times: 'How Pakistan Settled An Al-Qaeda Score '
CPP20070501721001 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1035 GMT 30 Apr 07
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad : "How Pakistan Settled An Al-qaeda Score "; headline as provided by source]
KARACHI - Internal squabbling between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and exploited by Pakistan forced many al-Qaeda leaders to move from the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraq in search of new headquarters from which to operate.
Senior al-Qaeda member Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, 46, was one of these men - and he paid dearly for the move after being fingered by Pakistan. On Friday, the Pentagon announced that Hadi had been arrested late last year and handed over to the US Central Intelligence Agency. Describing Hadi as "one of al-Qaeda's highest-ranking and experienced senior operatives", the Pentagon said he had been sent to the US Defense Department-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Pentagon did not say exactly where and when Hadi was arrested, but it is believed to have been in Iraq. Asia Times Online contacts confirm that he was exposed by Pakistani intelligence after it received news of Hadi's movements from Taliban sources close to the Pakistani establishment. Hadi, as a hardcore takfiri , (1) was seen as an enemy of Pakistan.
Although the date of Hadi's departure from the Waziristan tribal areas is not known, it was about the time that several powerful Taliban field commanders, including Jalaluddin Haqqani, Mullah Dadullah and the Taliban leader himself, Mullah Omar, affirmed their support for the Pakistani establishment as a "Muslim state with a Muslim army". They stressed that instead of investing energy to destabilize Pakistan, the focus should be on the jihad in Afghanistan against foreign troops.
The one-legged Taliban commander of southwestern Afghanistan, Mullah Dadullah, had been sent to Waziristan with a letter from Mullah Omar early last year and he played a pivotal role in stopping the internecine strife between the Pakistani Taliban/al-Qaeda and the Pakistani armed forces. In the months after this, Mullah Dadullah and the Pakistani establishment agreed to a deal to support the Taliban in Afghanistan (see Pakistan makes a deal with the Taliban , Asia Times Online, March 1).
This re-emergence of a soft corner in the Taliban's leadership for the Pakistani establishment was the beginning of the end of al-Qaeda's effective operations in Pakistan, and al-Qaeda leaders felt that it was time to move from Waziristan.
Al-Qaeda adherents were not prepared to serve as foot soldiers under the command of the Taliban. They saw themselves as warriors with a much broader strategy aimed at bringing down US military might. (For a report on Al-Qaeda's move from Waziristan, see Ready to take on the world , ATol, March 2.)
Why Pakistan was after Hadi
Pakistan's alliance in the US-led "war on terror" turned a whole generation of Arab fighters into foes. More than 700 Arab fighters were arrested by the Pakistani government after September 11, 2001, and handed over to US custody.
This prompted a segment of al-Qaeda to take revenge against the administration of President General Pervez Musharraf. A special cell was established in Waziristan, Jundullah (entirely different from the Iranian Jundullah), to carry out attacks, which it did on several occasions, against Musharraf. This placed Jundullah and takfiris like Hadi clearly in the Pakistani establishment's crosshairs.
In 2003, al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri spoke for the first time against the Pakistani establishment, calling Musharraf a "traitor" and urging Pakistanis to stand up against his rule. (For more on Hadi and his role in a conspiracy to attack Musharraf, see Pakistan and the al-Qaeda curse , ATol, October 1, 2003, and Al-Qaeda cell caught in US squeeze , June 15, 2004.)
Pakistan isolates al-Qaeda
By late 2003, the Pakistani military operation against al-Qaeda in South Waziristan had left the group somewhat battered, with its training camps destroyed, but at the same time this created lot of anger against the Pakistani forces. This helped al-Qaeda spread its takfiri and anti-establishment ideology among local tribes and led to the formation of the Pakistan Taliba n, which by last year had formed the Islamic State of North Waziristan and the Islamic state of South Waziristan.
In this context, Mullah Dadullah's arrival in South Waziristan as Mullah Omar's envoy early last year was aimed at building bridges between the Pakistani establishment and these renegade Pakistani Taliban who were becoming imbibed with takfiri ideology and who were bloodthirsty for the Pakistani armed forces. Suicide attacks were rampant on troops in the tribal areas, as well as in Pakistani cities.
Dadullah's role paved the way for the Pakistani Taliban to sit with the Pakistani establishment to negotiate a ceasefire, and Pakistani Taliban commanders such as Haji Omar and Haji Nazir talked to Islamabad. Soon, a peace deal was agreed for the two Waziristans, but on the sole condition that all militants who were at loggerheads with the Pakistani establishment would take a back seat, leaving the lead to political faces (see The knife at Pakistan's throat , ATol, September 2, 2006).
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