Pakistani militants in North Waziristan abandon peace deal
The step is a blow to the military as it battles a Taliban leader in a neighboring province. The two Taliban movements could now join forces.
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Taliban militants in North Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, have ended a peace agreement with the Pakistani government. This development jeopardizes the military's plan to isolate and target the Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, a neighboring tribal district.
A shura, or council, on Monday decided to call off the agreement – brokered with Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur in February 2008 – because the government has failed to meet the Taliban's demands that the Pakistani Army withdraw from the region and the government put an end to US-sanctioned drone attacks, reports the BBC. A Taliban spokesman added that militants would now "carry out attacks on military targets in the region until the army left and US drones strikes were halted."
The agreement with Mr. Bahadur was meant to divide Taliban forces in the area. The Pakistani Army is waging an offensive against Mr. Mehsud in South Waziristan, and, under the agreement, Bahadur would not join Mehsud in battling Pakistani forces.
The termination of the peace agreement comes a day after militants ambushed an Army convoy, leaving 23 soldiers dead and 35 wounded, reports The Times of London.
The Washington Post reports that the failure of the peace agreement in North Waziristan is a blow to the government because the military had expected to funnel supplies through the region to support the offensive against Mehsud. It also means that militants in North Waziristan will no longer sit on the sidelines while Pakistan is busy battling Mehsud in the neighboring province.
The Taliban assault on an army convoy passing through the village of Inzar Kas was one of the deadliest incidents for the military during its two-month-old offensive against the insurgents. But to some analysts, it also served as a warning of a bigger threat -- the possibility that disparate Taliban factions might be closing ranks to battle the army in Pakistan.