Why Haqqani network's Pak peace deal threatens US
The Haqqani network is planning to target the United States-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan from its new bases in the Kurram agency.
The network brokered a peace deal between the warring Sunni and Shia sects in the Kurram agency and as a result got new bases in the strategically important agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas, reports Tahir Ali.
Their first success came in when a tribal jirga (council) supported by the Haqqani network succeeded in brokering a peace deal between warring tribes after three years of fighting.
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Image: A Pakistani soldier holds a rocket launcher while securing a road at Khar in Pakistan's FATA region
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters
Kurram agency is most strategically located
With this peace deal, the Haqqani network is rapidly shifting its centre of activities from North Waziristan to Kurram agency which is strategically important than any other tribal area of Pakistan.
The fighting that erupted between the Sunni and Shia sects in 2007 has been also resulted in the migration of some 3,000 families to the other parts of FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to reports, the Shias were supported by Iran while the Taliban came to support of the Sunni extremists in the Kurram agency.
Image: File picture of Jalaluddin Haqqani, chief of the Haqqani netowrk
Pak government supports peace in Kurram agency
The Pakistan government tried its best to stop the sectarian violence in Kurram but did not succeed. Finally the Haqqani network came forward to stop the sectarian violence in the area.
Earlier a number of government-sponsored jirgas were held but all in vain. The government brokered an agreement between the warring sects at Murree in October 2008 but the accord failed badly and none of the parties were ready to act upon the agreement.
The two sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani -- Khalil Haqqani and Ibrahim Haqqani -- participated in the meetings of tribesmen and successfully resolved the issue.
Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik also attended a news conference of the tribal elders to demonstrate the government's support for the peace accord.
Image: Seized weapons recovered from Taliban displayed in Sada, Kurram agency
Photographs: Mian Kursheed/Reuters
Easier for Taliban to cross over to Pakistan
The Haqqani network did not broker the agreement just for the wellbeing of the people but was attracted by the strategic position of the agency. Kurram is geographically most significant than all other agencies of Pakistan. It touches Khost province of Afghanistan in the south, Paktia in the southwest and Nangarhar in the north, while Kabul is 90 kilometers west of Parachinar, the headquarters of the agency.
Kurram was used as a base by all the Mujahideen factions during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. The Haqqani network is very strong in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni and Wardak areas of Afghanistan.
The power center of this group is in North Waziristan but it was facing difficulties while crossing the border, as the ISAF were closely watching their positions.
Now after getting bases in Kurram agency it would become easy for the Taliban to cross over to Afghanistan. The increase of drone attacks in North Waziristan was another reason the Haqqani network was looking for some other place to operate from.
The Taliban in the tribal areas have welcomed the deal.
Pakistan is under tremendous international pressure to carryout military operation against all Taliban factions based in North Waziristan.
This agreement would allow the Haqqani network to shift to Kurram agency and its adjoining areas. If the military assault takes place in North Waziristan now it would not serve any useful purpose.
Image: A member of the local Lashkar sits with his weapon next to a wall damaged in recent fighting in Khar
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters