‘New govt clashing with army over peace deals’

‘New govt clashing with army over peace deals’
* Report says US, Kabul fear deals will allow Taliban to attack NATO
Daily Times, May 2, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new government is clashing with the military over peace deals that the military has secretly initiated with militants, former Interior minister Aftab Sherpao has said, according to a report published in the McClatchy newspaper on Thursday.

“They were started by the agencies and the army in the caretaker period,” said Sherpao. “The agreements are either done by the army or the governor. The federal government doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

Citing an unidentified “senior Pakistani official”, the newspaper said the new government found out about the military’s initiative only after it took power, and has since tried to rein in the army’s plan of pulling out troops and leaving local tribes to police the area.

“We gave clear instructions (to the army) that there will be no agreements with anyone who does not relinquish their weapons,” said the official. “The agreements are part of a carrot-and-stick deal. The stick, the army of Pakistan, will not be removed.”

The government does not “want to get into a situation where it is more appeasement than an agreement,” Khalid Aziz, a former top bureaucrat in the North West Frontier Province and a member of a task force that is developing a counter-terrorism economic strategy for the provincial government, told the newspaper. “If we have to talk, let’s talk something which is concrete and is not an embarrassment.”

Zahid Khan from the Awami National Party told McClatchy his administration wasn’t involved in the negotiations with militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Washington and Kabul: The newspaper said Washington and Kabul say the withdrawal of the Pakistan Army after the previous peace deals allowed Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup and launch attacks against North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces in Afghanistan.

“It is giving them (Pakistani militants) carte blanche to do whatever you want, but not here” in Pakistan, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Muhammad Anwar Anwarzai told the newspaper.

“This is going to put us right back where we were in January (2006), when the US bombed Bajaur, to pre-empt the Bajaur agreement,” said Christine Fair, an analyst at the Rand Corporation. daily times monitor

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