Waziristan Update III

Yesterday I wrote about Karzai’s thoughts on the Waziristan accord, and we’ve been getting mixed signals as to whether it will be effective or not. While alternately shaking hands and slamming each other, Karzai and Musharraf are making progress. (Most media reports of the Karzai – Musharraf meeting have the leaders not shaking hands, but Presidential Spokesman Tony Snow said they did greet each other, shake hands warmly, they just didn’t do it for the cameras. )

Out of the meeting they gained two main agreements, as noted in this CNN article:

The result was agreement on two concrete initiatives:

— Convene two “loya jirga,” meaning “grand councils,” of tribal leaders, one on either side of the border, where Karzai and Musharraf would appear together and make a joint pitch for help against the Taliban. “President Karzai feels that tribal leadership is an effective an tool in fighting extremism because a significant number of them have been killed by these young extremist zealots,” says Jawad.

— Expand real-time sharing of intelligence about positions and movements of terrorists and insurgents. “Intelligence sharing needs to be sped up so you don’t get information which is two weeks old and is not actionable,” says Durrani.

So, we have the usual back and forth, and mixed signs on both sides of the border. Afghan Taliban insurgency has increased dramatically, but it’s not possible to tell without confirmed reports that these are coming cross-border. The increase could be due to the forced migration of Afghan Taliban out of the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The peaceful Afghans migrated back a couple of years ago, it’s those with ill-intent who remained in Pakistan after the overthrow of the Taliban. You have to imagine that they have outstayed some of their welcome now that Soviet Invaders aren’t in their country, and the people of Pakistan can see that Afghanistan is free except in areas terrorized by the Taliban. 

Meantime, there are reports of better cross-border cooperation, border posts are going up both sides, albeit with clashes — there is a bit of rivalry between the two military forces — as you can see at Afgha.com forums and others. They should hold quarterly Cricket and Soccer matches between the forces so they make that rivalry less militant and more sporting.

The Captain’s Journal has this report, but the Newsday article cited doesn’t give many clear sources, and ignores the fact that many of the Taliban fighters are mercenary, paid aproximately three times the going rate of pay for Afghanistan army soldiers. Those Taliban coming cross-border aren’t the seasoned veterans that have been dealt with in the past by the US forces, as you can tell by the massive casualties taken by the Taliban this spring through fall in Afghanistan. ( Greater than 2,000)

The most chilling report was that the Taliban had opened an office in North Waziristan, but the government in Pakistan has since forced it’s closure. There are also fresh reports of Pakistan capturing more Taliban who infiltrated back from the front in Afghanistan, this from AP:

Police arrest 6 wounded Taliban fighters from hospital in Pakistani city, official says
    QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) – Police raided a private hospital in the southwestern Pakistan city of Quetta on Sunday and arrested six wounded fighters from Afghanistan’s Taliban militia who were being treated at the facility, an official said. The six men, all suffering bullet wounds, arrived at the privately-run Al-Khidmat hospital about two days ago, said Chaudhry Mohammed Yaqoob, chief of police in the Baluchistan province of which Quetta is the capital. Yaqoob said that the raid was carried out after police received a tip about the presence of Taliban fighters at the hospital. The six fighters and three hospital attendants were moved to a government hospital in police custody, he said. 011349 oct 06GMT

Time will do the tell on the success of the Waziristan Pact, we need to see the outcome of the Foreigner Registration in Pakistan in October, and see if the Loya Jirga comes to be.