View Full Version : Are Taliban Anti Pakistan?(a old article but very interesting)

05-19-2010, 07:56 PM
Taliban claim Mohmand Agency

The Friday Times (Pakistan)

Iqbal Khattak says Kabul has refused repeated requests by Islamabad to renew the Durand Line treaty
The July visit of a high-powered and highly armed Taliban delegation to some parts of the federally administered Mohmand Agency in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province has revived Afghanistan's claim on the area and left Islamabad shocked. Islamabad has also been trying to downplay the incident for fear that it would bring the government under pressure.

"Whatever you have heard or read is true," Mutahar Zeb, assistant political agent of Mohmand Agency told TFT at his office in Ghalanai, the agency headquarters. "We have sent a report [of the visit] to the Home and Tribal Affairs Department. Beyond this, I cannot divulge any more information," young Zeb said.

Sources told TFT during a visit to the Agency that the Taliban delegation comprised "about 95 Taliban, including [their] interior minister and top officials of the Nangrahar government". The delegation came in a convoy of 12-15 vehicles mounted with light weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns.

TFT has learnt that the delegation, which was accorded a warm welcome by local chieftains and returned the same day whence it had come, visited a number of places in the agency, most notably the Khapakh area, some 20 kilometres west of Ghalanai.

In Peshawar, officials continue to play down the significance of the visit. Manzoor Ahmed, additional secretary (political) at the Home and Tribal Affairs Department, told TFT that the Taliban "just crossed over to offer fateha [condolence]". Ahmed said this was normal since Mohmands live on both sides of the Durand Line and share their grief and happiness. "There is no political fallout of the visit," he assured TFT.

However, he could not explain why it was important for the Taliban interior minister to come to Mohmand Agency all the way from Kabul. According to one malik (chieftain) of the Khoizai tribe, the Taliban expressed anger at the Mohmand sub-tribes' urge to get Pakistani identity cards. "This is our land. We will give you the (identity) cards," the malik quoted one Taliban delegation member as saying at a tea party, attended among other chieftains by Malik Fazal Manan, a former member of Pakistan's national assembly. During one of the ceremonies, the delegation also hoisted the Taliban flag at Khapakh.

Sources said the paramilitary force was put on alert as the news of the Taliban delegation's visit reached the office of the political agent, chief administrator of the agency. The government then moved and arrested two chieftains - Malik Abid and Malik Naseem - for interrogation. The two maliks were, however, released after being interrogated by the political administration for 72 hours.

Some official sources reveal that the Taliban's interests in the area has been growing, though it was the fist time a delegation visited the area since the Islamic militia captured Kabul in September 1996. A medical worker at Sultankhel's BHU (basic health unit) told TFT that whenever the political administration launches a vaccination drive in the agency, the Taliban also send their vaccination teams in, suggesting that 'some parts of the Mohmand Agency belong to Afghanistan.'

Interestingly, even though Pakistan has taken flak from the entire world for its perceived support of the Taliban militia, the new rulers of Kabul refuse to accept the Duran Line, the main bone of contention between Islamabad and the former nationalist-communist rulers of that country.

"Kabul has refused to renew the Durand Line treaty since 1993 when it expired," says an Afghanistan expert. One of the reasons Pakistan faced problems with the Kabul rulers right from its inception was Kabul's claim over the North West frontier Province. "Kabul never accepted that line or the fact that the NWFP is part of Pakistan. This was one of the main policy planks used by Sardar Daoud's government when it tried to foment trouble by Pukhtoon nationalists in the NWFP on the issue of greater Pukhtoonistan," says this expert.

The Durand Line was demarcated by the British and signed into a treaty in 1893 with the Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rehman. The treaty was to stay in force for a 100-year period. According to Afrasiab Khattak, a political analyst, the areas from the Khyber Agency northwards to Chitral, however, remained un-demarcated. Mohmand chieftains also gave the same facts to TFT, saying: "Mohmand Agency does not have a mutually accepted border between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

In 1920, the British signed the 'Rawalpindi Treaty' with Afghanistan, which was a follow-up of the Durand Line conceding what Afrasiab Khattak described "Afghan interests in the tribal areas east of the Durand Line". "It does not surprise me that Taliban should follow in the footsteps of their predecessors by staking claim to some parts of Pakistan. This is in the nature of nationalism and since some of these areas were un-demarcated, this was likely to happen," an expert on Afghan affairs at the University of Peshawar's Area Study Centre told TFT.

He said Pakistan itself "violated" the sanctity of the Durand Line when it began to send arms and mujahideen inside Afghanistan to fight the Soviet-backed Afghan communist regime. For its part, Pakistan has tried to push every Afghan ruler, from King Zahir Shah to the Taliban, to renew the Durand Line Treaty. The present military government, too, is trying its best to bring the Islamic militia to the negotiating table over this issue. During Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider's visit to Afghanistan, the problem surfaced again but the Taliban government refused to discuss it on the pretext that it was at war with the Northern Alliance and would take up this, and other issues, with Pakistan after the war.

Political analysts regard that excuse as a refusal by the Taliban to shed claim over the "disputed" areas. A Mohmand malik told TFT in Ghalanai that a "strong Afghanistan will never give up its claim on the territories". As a propaganda tool, every Afghan government has claimed control over the areas up to Attock, the natural river border between the North West Frontier Province and the Punjab. The controversial issue of "Pukhtoonistan" also provided a ground for Afghanistan to intensify its "war of words" against Pakistan in the 60s and 70s.

Aside from the political aspect of the issue, the Mohmand Agency is also very important for Pakistan from the military viewpoint. Its vantage location allowed Pakistan-backed mujahideen during the Afghan war to use it effectively as a jump-off ground to launch attacks inside Afghanistan.
If Islamabad penetrates deeper inside the agency and construct roads up to the area where the Khoizai tribe is living, the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad will be in the reach of Pakistani gunners and all supply routes to it could be cut off through artillery engagement.

The peculiar border situation has also greatly benefited tribesmen on this side of the Durand Line. Islamabad cannot afford to annoy them and keeps trying to outmatch Kabul's benefits. Tribal maliks have therefore been given a number of incentives, mostly financial, to keep them quiet and loyal citizens of Pakistan. To cash in on the situation, some maliks at times misuse the "special treatment" by blackmailing the political administration and the federal government.

Ghalanai-based sources told TFT that some maliks, having developed differences with the political administration of Mohmand Agency, invited the Taliban to show their strength and send a signal to Pakistani authorities that they could not afford to annoy them. Ironically, Malik Fazal Manan, who is supposed to be behind this move, is a former MNA. Some elders of the Kudakhel tribe allege that Malik Manan and his supporters - Malik Abid, Malik Ashraf, Malik Amjad Jan, Malik Zafar, Malik Kachkol and others - wanted to put pressure on the political administration by bringing in the Taliban.
A few weeks after the event, the federal government transferred Dr Fida Wazir, political agent of the Mohmand Agency. It is not clear whether he has been posted out as punishment or to fill up the vacancy at the Khyber Agency.