Similar peace deals had earlier been signed with Taliban leaders Nek Mohammed and Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, and later in North Waziristan. None of them brought lasting peace to the region; they merely helped the Taliban to spread its influence, reorganise, rearm, retrain and challenge the writ of the State. These deals have contributed immensely towards the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan in South and North Waziristan agencies.
In an extremely feudal hierarchical tribal society like the one that exists in these parts of Pakistan, the mere willingness of the government to negotiate elevates the stature of the leader of the militant group to the level of the government official negotiating with him.
Moreover, the Taliban have always utilised such tactical interregnums to eliminate agents of the security forces and other collaborators. Consequently, after each such deal the Taliban has emerged stronger, so much so that in Waziristan today, security forces cannot venture outside their fortified garrisons.
The Swat deal has been followed by the coming together of three Taliban commanders in South and North Waziristan, two of whom were believed to be pro-government. As part of the deal with the government, Fazlullah wants the army to be withdrawn from Swat Valley, to facilitate consolidation of his hold and elimination of all elements that had sided with the security forces in the past.
Image: Pakistani girls assemble in a private school in Mingora, capital of the troubled Swat Valley in Pakistan on Monday, February 23, 2009. Photograph copyright AP. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.