'Al qaeda, Taliban exploites Waziristan pact to regroup'

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Washington, Nov 3: Former chairman of the Pakistan Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Ehsan ul-Haq has said that al Qaeda and Taliban militants exploited the 2006 Waziristan peace pact to regroup and carry out terrorist attacks both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The agreement was signed on September 5, 2006 in Miranshah.

“The implementation [of the agreement] needed to be better monitored," General Ehsan told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“Very early, the violations should have been taken notice of [so that the extremists understood] that even the smallest violations would not be tolerated," he added.

General Ehsan said that the poor implementation of the peace deal forced Pakistan to deploy nearly 100,000 troops to battle pro-Taliban militants in the region.

In time it became clear that the strategy had to be changed, he said, “but we still didn"t want the onus of breaking the agreement to come on us. So the day [tribal leaders] said the agreement was broken, the army went in."

The agreement collapsed in early July when Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad. Since then, more than 700 civilians and soldiers have been killed in suicide attacks, roadside bombings and rocket attacks, while a full-blown insurgency has erupted in parts of the NWFP, The Dawn reported.

General Ehsan said the army had no choice in sending troops into the northwest. “We do consider extremism and terrorism to be the highest-priority threat to the security and well-being of Pakistan," he said.

Rejecting the claims that Pakistan is simply responding to pressure from the US by nailing down pro-Taliban militants, General Ehsan said, “We are looking at it primarily as to what is in the best interests of Pakistan."

It is critical for Pakistan to “get hold of its internal security environment," he added.


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