Bajaur Strike - Consequences?

Bajaur seminary strike could hurt Orakzai’s ability to negotiate peace’
By Iqbal Khattak
Daily Times, October 31, 2006

PESHAWAR: Monday’s airstrike on an alleged militant training camp in a madrassa in Bajaur Agency came as a surprise to NWFP Governor Jan Orakzai and threatens his credibility as a negotiator with tribal leaders, officials said.

Official sources told Daily Times on Tuesday that the governor and his team were “stunned” by the attack on the madrassa in which 83 people were killed, especially as it came at a time that the government was about to reach a peace agreement in the area.

The political administration of Bajaur Agency was negotiating a North Waziristan-like accord with militants. Nine members of the banned Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi were released on October 21 after four months in detention on terrorism charges, a move that was seen as an indication that a deal was close.

“Obviously, negotiations with the militants by the administration enjoyed the full backing of the governor. The chief administrator of Bajaur, Fahim Wazir, was not doing all this on his own.

“He was directed by the governor who believes the use of force in tribal areas is not the only solution the government should go for,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

Orakzai, a tribesman himself, was appointed governor earlier this year to help the federal government find a negotiated settlement to growing militancy in the tribal areas after the security situation in North Waziristan deteriorated.

“The Bajaur strike is a setback to the governor’s credibility. He had assured tribal elders and clerics that all issues would be tackled through negotiations and tribal traditions would be upheld to maintain security in the region,” the official said.

Get ready for suicide attacks: tribal cleric
* 15,000 attend demonstration in Khar, vow to ‘avenge’ attack
By Masood Khan
(DT: Nov. 1, 2006)

KHAR: Thousands of tribal protestors here on Tuesday welcomed a call for suicide attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, as anger against a madrassa airstrike on Monday swept through Bajaur Agency and North West Frontier Province, eyewitnesses said.

Around 15,000 people at a protest demonstration in the Khar area of Bajaur Agency also vowed to “avenge” the killing of “innocent people”.

“Are you ready to join suicide missions?” local cleric Maulana Inayatur Rehman asked the protestors, who said “yes”.

The cleric vowed to uphold the “supremacy of Islam”. “We will carry out even suicide attacks for jihad.”

Rehman said he had prepared a “squad of suicide bombers” to target Pakistani security forces in the same way that militants were attacking Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, AP reported.

Wanted pro-Taliban militant commander Maulana Faqir Muhammad said President Musharraf was an “American agent, killing innocent people at the US behest”.

He dismissed government claims that foreign and local militants were present in the madrassa at the time of the airstrike. He said that he was ready to work with a tribal jirga for peace, but vowed not to renounce jihad. He announced that “American agents will be hanged publicly”.

“Elimination of Musharraf is a must to restore peace,” he told protestors carrying guns and chanting “death to Musharraf, death to Bush”.

Security forces stopped the protestors from marching on the Khar Bazaar, which remained shut.

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