Peace deal in Bajaur soon, says Aurakzai

February 24, 2007


PESHAWAR, Feb 23: A peace agreement similar to the one struck with militants of the North Waziristan Agency in September last year was being finalised and efforts were being made to seek support of tribal elders of the area for the deal, NWFP Governor Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai told a delegation of newsmen here on Friday.

The Bajaur peace deal was expected to be signed in October-November 2006 but the move was suspended after an airstrike on a madressa in the Chenagai village of the Bajaur Agency on Oct 30, 2006. The attack left more than 80 students dead.

Under the North Waziristan deal, militants had agreed that all foreigners living in the region would leave and those unable to do so would abide by the peace agreement.

The governor said that foreign militants had started leaving the North Waziristan Agency under the terms of the peace agreement.

“About 50 families have so far left the agency,” Mr Aurakzai said, without specifying where these families had gone to. He said that some hurdles in the militants’ repatriation were causing some delay.

Saying that the North Waziristan peace accord had yielded positive results, the governor referred to a statement of militant commander Baithullah Mehsud denouncing the recent spate of suicide attacks in different parts of the NWFP.

He said the government was trying to find out real culprits involved in terrorist activities and soon they would be brought to justice.

The journalists’ delegation thanked the governor for his efforts leading to safe recovery of kidnapped journalist Sohail Qalander.

AGENCIES ADD: He said a 21-member jirga belonging to the North Waziristan Agency that met him recently had held out an assurance that foreign elements, if found in the agency, would be handed over to the government. These elements, the governor said, had been asked to leave the agency or live peacefully according to traditions of the area.

The governor said that these elements were creating problems for the government by involving themselves in kidnapping and other anti-social activities. The governor pledged that they would be dealt with sternly.The governor’s defence of the North Waziristan deal with militants comes hard on the heels of negative comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who told US lawmakers a week ago that there were problems and disappointments with the results of the deal.

President Pervez Musharraf has said similar agreements would be struck in other areas, as partial success was better than none.