Mar 31 2008
Here is some truly interesting news that is very much counter to much of the reporting that is coming out of Pakistan. It seems the tribal leaders in one of the agencies of FATA where Bin Laden is thought to be hiding out are ready to hand him over to authorities (probably for a price):
Tribal elders and maliks living in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border have decided to hand over terrorists including Osama bin Laden if they are found in the areas. At the same time some officials of the Pakistani administration staged a drama in Bajaur Agency by organising a meeting of the Taliban militants. It is ironic in the presence of officials, the officials displayed heavy weapons creating great terror among the tribesmen.
During a survey conducted by Voice For Peace it was found that several tribal elders and maliks have said that they are ready to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States.
There are people who believe that Osama bin Laden along with his colleagues have been hiding in Bajaur Agency.
The confrontation between the militants and the army has served to worsen the plight of the provinceÂ´s poverty-stricken people and added to their hardship. In Swat alone, the fighting between the army and Maulana FazlullahÂ´s militia turned thousands of men, women and children homeless in bitter cold.
Ending militancy in Fata and neutralising the bases where suicide bombers are trained are issues that deserve priority because the Taliban are on the verge of destroying tribal culture. Traditionally, the tribesmen have believed in solving their group problems through jirgas. But we have seen how the militants have attacked a peace jirga and bombed a funeral procession. There are also illegal FM stations which preach hatred and arouse people to violence. These constitute an affront to Pakhtoon values.
Maybe be I am being Pollyannish, but I see the makings of a quid pro quo here. The discussions coming out of Pakistan include some major themes: peace, ending the influence of America, ending the influence of al-Qaeda and terrorists. al-Qaeda and their allies in the extremist elements of the Taliban have been killing scores of civilians and tribal leaders. One of the most horrific attacks came at a peace jirga where dozens where killed for considering the idea of expunging the terrorists from their midsts.
A suicide bomber attacked an anti-al-Qaeda peace meeting attended by thousands of tribe members in north-western Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 40 people in the third suicide blast in the region in as many days.
Five tribes had called the meeting to finalise a resolution that would punish anyone who sheltered or helped Muslim militants, including al-Qaeda, Taliban and other foreign extremists, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.
It is becoming clear to many in the tribal areas of Pakistan that the thugs seeking sanctuary amongst them are more dangerous and brutal than anything Americans have done. I still say we are seeing an “Awakening” in these regions as we did in Iraq in the Sunni province of Anbar. As more and more locals openly discuss retaliating or spurning al-Qaeda, the more violence al-Qaeda inflicts on them, creating a viscous but unstoppable spiral that ends in al-Qaeda becoming the enemy of Islam to those people who once protected them. Hopefully this is the case and in a matter of weeks, for the price of investment for development money from America, we shall see the Pakistan tribes also rise up against al-Qaeda and purge them from their last sanctuary on Earth. Investment is a small price to pay to rid us of al-Qaeda, and it has the added benefit of not costing as many lives on our side.