Pakistan’s peace with terrorists hits snag: sovereignty

posted at 10:35 am on April 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The new Pakistani government’s policy of peace through negotiations with radical Islamist terrorists came to a momentary halt when the man who had Benazir Bhutto assassinated decided that Islamabad hadn’t retreated enough for his taste. Baitullah Mehsud broke off talks when the government refused to withdraw troops from its own sovereign areas in Waziristan. The cease-fire remains in place, at least for the moment:

A top Taleban commander in Pakistan has halted peace talks with the government, his spokesman says.

Last week Baitullah Mehsud ordered a ceasefire amid reports that he was close to reaching a peace deal with the new government.

But his spokesman says talks have broken down because the government refuses to order troops out of the tribal areas by the Afghan border. …

“The government refused to pull out its forces from the tribal areas which forced Mehsud to call off the talks,” Mehsud’s spokesman Maulvi Omar, told the AFP news agency.

Mehsud and Pervez Musharraf understand what the new Pakistani government does not: the Taliban doesn’t want a negotiated, peaceful coexistence. They want an imposition of strict shari’a and the elimination of elected government. Mehsud envisions a mullahcracy, similar to Afghanistan before the fall of the Taliban after 9/11 or somewhat similar to Iran now.

The existence of secular law as represented by Islamabad’s troops in Waziristan and in the NWFP is intolerable to Mehsud and his fellow radicals. They want Pakistan to retreat from the western provinces, in effect leaving Mehsud with de facto sovereignty and the ability to rule these areas like a caliphate. The “negotiations” only matter to Mehsud in how fast Pakistan will agree to withdraw its writ from the three provinces, and when Mehsud can begin building his own armies to replace them without interference from Pakistan or anyone else.

In a way, that could make the situation easier for the US and NATO in Afghanistan. If Pakistan does withdraw its armed forces from these provinces, the case for pursuit becomes much clearer and less complicated for NATO. If Pakistan refuses to secure these territories, then they have little basis for complaint if the West starts attacking Taliban and al-Qaeda bases that Pakistan refuses to address. It also gets the Pakistani Army out of the way and makes collateral damage to soldiers much less likely.

The BBC reports that the US has been “cautiously supportive” of the negotiations. If so, it may be that the US sees the strategic advantage in the short term of the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army, which wasn’t inclined to do much about terrorists anyway. Either that, or the Bush administration figures that the new government is determined to learn this lesson the hard way and doesn’t see much point in interfering with the lesson. In either case, Mehsud may regret pushing for a Pakistani withdrawal from the frontier, and the new government may find it difficult to reclaim sovereignty once they relinquish it.


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The “negotiations” only matter to Mehsud in how fast Pakistan will agree to withdraw its writ from the three provinces, and when Mehsud can begin building his own armies to replace them without interference from Pakistan or anyone else.

Good, then they can no longer claim that we can’t go onto their territory. Fire up the BUFFs!

Tony737 on April 28, 2008 at 10:43 AM

I do hope when the weak knee new government of Pakistan leaves, Bush will use the full force of our air force and totally destory the terrorist camps.

BroncosRock on April 28, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Withdraw the Pakistani Army and unleash a rain of death from the skies upon these maniacs.

Worked with the German Nazis and imperialist Japanese and Italian fascists.

profitsbeard on April 28, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Warmongers!

When Neville Obama is elected we will have peace in our time.

moxie_neanderthal on April 28, 2008 at 10:50 AM

As much respect as I have for the zoomies they will never be able to take the Taliban down alone. You still have to put boots on the ground and have the logistical assets in place to support an alpine campaign. The 10th Mountain is going to need a bit of backup to control Waziristan.

Not saying it can’t be done, just not with what we now have available on the ground.

Limerick on April 28, 2008 at 10:59 AM

Only interested in total surrender.

I think “Surrender” is more in HA style of captioning articles.

freevillage on April 28, 2008 at 11:00 AM

The BBC reports that the US has been “cautiously supportive” of the negotiations. If so, it may be that the US sees the strategic advantage in the short term of the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army, which wasn’t inclined to do much about terrorists anyway. Either that, or the Bush administration figures that the new government is determined to learn this lesson the hard way and doesn’t see much point in interfering with the lesson.

I hope that the United States will pause before attacking Meshud and his religious fanatics. Let Meshud’s forces do what they do best in Pakistan and thus give the Pakistani people an excellent lesson on the rewards of negotiating with terrorists.

thuja on April 28, 2008 at 11:20 AM

I think we should enter into cluster bomb negotiations. Steel rain.

Mojave Mark on April 28, 2008 at 11:24 AM

And this was a surprise….. how?

NeighborhoodCatLady on April 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Withdraw the Pakistani Army and unleash a rain of death from the skies upon these maniacs. profitsbeard

Hosea 10
The high places of wickedness will be destroyed— … Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

Ezekiel 38
20 The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.

maverick muse on April 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM

maverick muse on April 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM-

That’ll work.

Or, from a book born closer to Pakistan, the Upanishads of the Hindus.

I am Agni… I can burn anything on Earth… I am Vayu, I can blow away everything there is on Earth…”

profitsbeard on April 28, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Let Meshud’s forces do what they do best in Pakistan and thus give the Pakistani people an excellent lesson on the rewards of negotiating with terrorists.

thuja on April 28, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Aw come on now, according to peanut brain Jimmah and Obama negotiating with terrorists is the only path to a lasting peace!

After all the terrorists always abide by the agreements they sign/shake on and they have absolutely no other agenda other than to live in peace with all us infidels…just ask Jimmah or Obama!

Liberty or Death on April 28, 2008 at 1:38 PM

Hmmm…interesting proposition. If the main impediment to substantial US activity against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets along the Paki side of the Af-Pak border is the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, then the de facto (if not de jure) ceding of said sovereignty in the tribal regions in question would rather nullify that impediment, yes?

The short term emboldening of Taliban and aQ could almost work to our advantage, leading them to let down their guard, begin to get established, and thus present some handy, fixed targets for the forces which we could quietly position in theater. It would be a party which would not end well.

I know it sounds a little like a screenplay, what with the cheering of triumphant Jihadis abruptly interrupted by curious popping sounds from creeping shrubs with night vision goggles, finally punctuated by hiss and a BOOM from aloft… Now if one could even begin to find a studio which would produce it!

Noocyte on April 28, 2008 at 1:51 PM

And what if Obama is given the reigns next year? You think he’s going to “rain steel” down on Taliban camps? He’ll be sending chocolates and Rev Wright to feel their pain.

leftnomore on April 28, 2008 at 2:04 PM

And herein lies the only reason I prefer McCain as President… or so I assume.

leftnomore on April 28, 2008 at 2:04 PM

maverick muse on April 28, 2008 at 11:50 AM-

That’ll work.
Or, from a book born closer to Pakistan, the Upanishads of the Hindus.

“I am Agni… I can burn anything on Earth… I am Vayu, I can blow away everything there is on Earth…”

profitsbeard on April 28, 2008 at 12:39 PM

The Upanishads speak of what can be done, maverick muse spoke of what will be done. I vote for that.

Grafted on April 28, 2008 at 3:01 PM

thuja on April 28, 2008 at 11:20 AM

I hope that the United States will pause before attacking Meshud and his religious fanatics. Let Meshud’s forces do what they do best in Pakistan and thus give the Pakistani people an excellent lesson on the rewards of negotiating with terrorists.

And just how much of the population agrees with the “T-banders”? Got any Idea? Sure would be interesting to know.
The point is… how many are hardcore…how many enablers…how many consenters….and with the army in retreat……..
We are staring down the barrel of the proverbal shotgun nuke… or enough fissioable material for a couple dozen good size EMP weapons! OMG… imho

jerrytbg on April 28, 2008 at 3:39 PM

This is a situation that will require so change and hope.

koypop on April 28, 2008 at 3:55 PM

The issue is whether Pakistan, as a State in the international system is willing to exercise sovereignty over its territory. It ASSERTS sovereignty when it “deplores” NATO incursions and return fire into its territory, but it seems unable or unwilling to exercise the national sovereignty over its territory necessary to prevent attecks from emanating from that territory.

Afghanistan, under the Taliban, had the same experience, though they were a bit more pro-active in terms of supporting the attacks by Al Qaeda. Nonetheless, there are enough precedents in UN Security Council Resolutions to raise a question if, whether Pakistan will not exercise its sovereignty to prevent attacks, other countries might be able to “step up” and do it for them…with or without their consent.

Blaise on April 28, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Blaise on April 28, 2008 at 5:20 PM

I don’t see myself as any kind of visionary….but this… it ain’t rocket science!
We threatened to put them back into the stone age, so why not follow through before……

jerrytbg on April 28, 2008 at 5:56 PM

Jerry: I am beginning to wonder if, for some of them, that wouldn’t be progress…

Blaise on April 28, 2008 at 5:58 PM

Blaise on April 28, 2008 at 5:58 PM

That may be hunorous but the stakes are too high for me to be blase.

jerrytbg on April 28, 2008 at 6:13 PM