Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pakistan: About those peace agreements and why they mean trouble for the USA

From The Long War Journal

Red areas = under Taliban Control.
Purple areas = under de facto Taliban control.
Yellow areas = under Taliban threat.

Compare to this map from November 2007.

This year, the government signed peace deals in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, and Mohmand. Negotiations are under way in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Mardan. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been inked.

What are some of these terms of these so-called peace agreements?

The creation of a “religious police” (modeled on the former Afghan Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice (PVSV), itself modeled on Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice). The local police are to assist this new department in implementing strict shari’a law in everyday life. This includes a “total ban on singing and dancing.”

Strict shari’a punishments, including cutting off of hands for theft, stoning for rape and adultery, and qisas (”like punishment” for crimes). Judges will be required to have knowledge of shari’a and will be reassigned to another province if they do not.

The government will drop prosecutions against 524 Taliban militants.

A timetable for the withdrawal of all Pakistani security forces from these seven NWFP districts.

The worst part: While the seven districts in which shari’a is to be implemented represent roughly 45% of the NWFP, if the Pakistani government also succeeds in its efforts to reach a similar deal with [Taliban/al-Qaeda leader] Baitullah Mehsud in the FATAs, the shari’a administration’s contiguous geographical area will expand by approximately 120 percent

So now let's take a look at how the region will look after these so-called peace agreements (they sure sound more like surrender agreements to me) go into force.

Red and Pink areas = The United States of Sharia
Striped areas= Negotiating to become Sharia State
Yellow areas=defacto Taliban control

Why this matters to America (or damn well should)

1.) This area will continue to serve as a launching pad to destabilize Afghanistan. A 2007 UN report estimated that 80 percent of the suicide bombers in Afghanistan came from the Waziristan agencies of Pakistan. The border region of Pakistan is the single most destabilizing force for Afghanistan, and by all accounts the source of much of the recent surge in Taliban activity in Afghanistan. The Taliban hold on Waziristan has led to the creation of training camps for suicide bombers — including children:

2) The Taliban’s goal is to eventually control all of Pakistan as a shari’a-ruled, nuclear Islamic state. Pakistan has already suffered 250 bombings in 2008. Over 4,500 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks since January 2007. Each time the Pakistani government has surrendered a province or agency to the Taliban in exchange for “peace,” the Taliban have simply used it as a launching pad to spread into neighboring areas. Implementing their strict brand of shari’a law is one of the Taliban’s major goals in areas that come under their control. In fact, in the January 2008 Combating Terrorism Center report on the goals of the Pakistan Taliban, “enforce shari’a” is first on the list. In October 2007, BBC reported that “Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan’s troubled northern district of Swat have told the BBC they will continue fighting until Islamic law is enforced.” In May 2008, the Taliban won the surrender of Swat, and seeks to enforce Sharia throughout all of Pakistan.

Perhaps the worst news of all is that the vast majority of Pakistanis – while saying they oppose the Taliban — are in agreement with those stated goals. A January 2008 poll found that while only 3 percent would have voted for the Taliban if they had been on the ballot in the recent elections, 75 percent of Pakistanis favor the implementation of “strict shari’a law” in Pakistan. Taliban commander Beitullah Mehsud has said last month that “Islam does not recognize boundaries,” and also demanded that Pakistan use its nuclear weapons against any ”enemies” who opposes the spread of Taliban-style Islam.

3) This region serves as an ideal base for terrorists to plan and launch attacks on the U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen was quoted in the Pakistan Daily Times as saying: “I believe fundamentally that if the US is going to get hit, it is going to come out of the planning of the leadership in FATA…That is a threat to us that must be dealt with.” According to the most recent census, the population of the NWFP and the FATA amounts to a combined 20 million people — roughly the size of New York or Florida — and all will be living under direct Taliban rule.

If this threat is ignored or not immediately addressed, it could potentially result in the loss of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Taliban, and the rise of a radical jihadist nuclear-armed Islamic emirate that rules nearly 200 million people. The resulting danger of major terror attacks on U.S. soil in the near future goes without saying.

Thanks to St. Louis Dispatch writer, Alex Mayer, for this excellent analysis.