Waziristan draft accord approved

Published February 2, 2005

PESHAWAR, Feb 1: The government on Tuesday approved the draft of a six-point peace agreement with a mujahideen commander aimed at restoring peace in South Waziristan, a government official confirmed to Dawn.

"We have approved the text of the six-point draft agreement. We have told Mehsud tribesmen negotiating the peace deal that we have no problems with it. As far as we are concerned the draft agreement stands approved," head of security in Fata, Brig Mehmood Shah said.

He declined to comment any further but it appeared that NWFP Governor Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah had dropped his initial reservations over the wording of the draft agreement and given his assent to it.

The draft agreement, a copy of which was provided to Dawn by one of the participants of the 28-member jirga of Dre-Mehsud with the governor here on Tuesday, stipulates that Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the mujahideen in South Waziristan, and his supporters would not give protection to nor support any foreign militant in their area.

Clause II of the draft agreement says that Baitullah or his supporters will neither fire at any government functionary nor cause damage to government installations, nor will they obstruct development activities in the area.

The third point provides for the exemption of Baitullah and his supporters from any legal and punitive action for their past activities. It does, however, provide for 'appropriate' punitive action under the Frontier Crimes Regulation against anyone violating the agreement and makes it incumbent upon Mehsuds to hand over offenders to the authorities.

The draft agreement also makes it binding on the Mehsud tribe to hand over all those who do not come within the purview of this accord, an indirect reference to Abdullah Mehsud, the 29-year-old former Guantanamo detainee responsible for the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in October last.

The fifth point provides for mutual consultation between the government and the Mehsud tribe to resolve any unsettled matters that have not been covered in the draft agreement or that may arise in future.

The last point allows the local authorities to take action should there be any violation of the agreement. Sources said the jirga had been handed back the document that they had brought with them and asked to arrange for Baitullah to come and sign the draft agreement.

One source said the jirga had contacted the militant commander soon after the meeting with the governor on Tuesday and asked him to meet them on Wednesday. If all went well, the source said, Baitullah might as well come and sign the peace agreement on Thursday at Sra Rogha in the presence of Assistant Political Agent, Ludda, South Waziristan.

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