PESHAWAR, April 15: In a significant development aimed at restoring peace in the volatile South Waziristan tribal region, all sub-clans, commanders and clerics of the predominant Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in the Wana region have given an undertaking to the government not to shelter Uzbek militants and not to obstruct development of the area.
The undertaking signed by tribal elders, militant commanders, clerics and local tribesmen in Wana on Sunday, a copy of which was made available to Dawn, consists of five points and has been titled as “Peace agreement between commanders, maliks, ulema and people of Ahmadzai Wazir of Wana sub-division.”
The two-page document, written in Urdu, carries signatures and thumb impressions of the signatories to the undertaking.
The government, represented by the political administration in Wana, is not a signatory to the “agreement” and a senior government official said it was an undertaking by the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe that inhibited the Wana sub-division of South Waziristan.
“This is a major development. The whole of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe has given an undertaking to us. It is an agreement that they have signed among themselves and we think it stands a better chance of success”. Hussainzada Khan, the administrator of South Waziristan, told Dawn.
The document also carries the signature of pro-Taliban militant commanders, including Maulavi Nazir Ahmad who together with his fighters had helped local tribesmen flush out Uzbek militants from Wana, regional headquarters of the restive tribal region.
Government officials were unsure of the fate of the now-seemingly-redundant agreement it had signed with militant commanders in April, 2004, that had failed to achieve the desired results, including the eviction of foreign militants and cross-border infiltration into Afghanistan.
On the contrary, the highly controversial agreement had caused the government to lose whatever little authority it had in the tribal region that borders Afghanistan.
Significantly, all the militant commanders who were signatories to the April 24, 2004, agreement with the government, are now on the run for supporting Uzbek militants, after being chased out by an army of tribal volunteers and supporting tribal militants.“That agreement now practically stands redundant,” a government official said. “We have assured the Ahmadzai Wazirs that their enemies would now be considered as our enemies. We are all on one side now,” the official said.
The Saturday undertaking stipulates that giving shelter to or cooperating with Uzbek militants or anyone fighting for them, be they local or non-local miscreants and terrorists, would be considered a crime punishable with demolition of his house, a fine of Rs1 million and disbandment from the tribal territory.
It further states that any person involved in creating lawlessness, robberies, kidnapping, murder or theft or creating hurdles in developmental activities in larger public good would be accountable to the tribe.
Unlike the government’s past agreements, the Saturday undertaking makes it clear that maintenance of law and order would be the responsibility of the government which would also ensure safety and security of the means of communications, including roads, telephone and electricity.
It urged the government to take immediate action against government officials involved in excesses and corruption.
It also urged government officials who had left Wana due to security reasons to immediately return to their job “now that with the grace of Allah Almighty, peace has been restored to Wana”.
It also provides for the constitution of a peace committee to be led by Maulavi Nazir Ahmad and would include commanders Hakimullah, Mittha Khan, Malang and tribal elder Abdul Khannan.Meanwhile, government officials said Uzbek militants, who had fled to the mountainous region of Manra and Nandran, appeared to have fled to Shawal in the neighbouring North Waziristan.
“Their vehicles were found abandoned to the north of Manra,” one official said. He said that among the abandoned vehicles was the famous bullet-proof Prado four-by-four vehicle of Uzbek militant commander Qari Tahir Yaldashev.
Government claims that between 150 to 200 Uzbek militants affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had been killed in the tribal conflict since late March, though local tribesmen put the figure at much lower.
Estimates also vary as to the number of Uzbek militants, who had escaped into Pakistan from Afghanistan in 2001, but intelligence officials would put their number at more than one thousand in South Waziristan alone.