Skepticism remains on Pak-Taliban deal

NY Times:

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tried to convince President Bush on Friday that a deal he approved with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would rid the areas of Qaeda and Taliban influence, rather than give the groups more freedom to operate.

Mr. Bush and his national security aides were clearly skeptical, according to administration officials, but at a news conference, Mr. Bush appeared to take General Musharraf’s assurances at face value. General Musharraf knew that there were enough questions in the air about the accord that he felt compelled to explain that “this deal is not at all with the Taliban; as I said, this is against the Taliban, actually.”

At the heart of the discussion in the Oval Office was a fear among American officials that General Musharraf, whose political hold over sections of his own country is tenuous at best, is only episodically engaged in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.


General Musharraf, who has a book coming out on Monday, told “60 Minutes,” in an interview to be broadcast this weekend on CBS, that Richard L. Armitage, then the deputy secretary of state, had threatened Pakistan’s intelligence chief in September 2001 that the consequences of failing to side with the United States would be huge. General Musharraf quoted the intelligence chief as recalling Mr. Armitage as saying: “Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age.”

But Mr. Armitage said Friday that he had never made such a threat, and that he was not authorized to make any threats during that meeting. “I never made a threat in my life that I couldn’t back up,” he said on CNN. “Since I wasn’t authorized to say such a thing, hence, I couldn’t back up that threat.”

When asked about the issue at the East Room news conference, General Musharraf refused to answer the question — not on national security grounds, but on the grounds that it would violate his book contract. “I am launching my book on the 25th, and I am honor-bound to Simon & Schuster not to comment on the book before that day,” he said.

After laughter subsided, Mr. Bush said, “In other words, buy the book.”


Some see the deal with the Taliban as a surrender by Pakistan. In a Weekly Standard article Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio write:


The agreement is, to put it mildly, a boon to the terrorists and a humiliation for the Pakistani government. Even the circumstances under which it was signed point to Pakistan's impotence in the face of a determined adversary....

Immediately after the Pakistani delegation left, al Qaeda's flag was run up the flagpole of abandoned military checkpoints, and the Taliban began looting leftover small arms. The Taliban also held a "parade" in the streets of Miranshah. Clearly, they view their "truce" with Pakistan as a victory. It is trumpeted as such on jihadist websites.

And with good reason. The accord provides that the Pakistani army will abandon outposts and border crossings throughout Waziristan. Pakistan's military agreed that it will no longer operate in North Waziristan or monitor actions in the region. Pakistan will return weapons and other equipment seized during Pakistani army operations. And the Pakistani government essentially paid a tribute to end the fighting when it agreed to pay compensation for property destroyed during combat--an unusual move since most of the property that was destroyed belonged to factions that had consciously decided to harbor terrorists.


There is more. The fig leaf of illusary non aggression promises by people whose word is no good appear to be Pakistan's main "benefit" from the areement.


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