The Provincial Government of N.W.F.P. (Pukhtoonkhawa) has so far signed two peace agreements with dissidents. The need for peace agreements arose due to the massive alienation of the people from the Government policies in addressing the question of militancy during the last few years. The Government would either be totally passive in the face of rising tide of militancy or it would abruptly resort to aerial bombardments and heavy weapons against the entire communities. The ensuing collateral damage would invariably lead to the expansion of political base of militancy. This process had continued for more than five years and had led to a dangerous polarization in our society. Hard core terrorists thrived on this polarization as they could get more recruits and more political support among the local population. Moreover, the militants, in spite of their criminal brutality, were regarded by a number of people as under dogs who were being oppressed by the Military Government at the behest of U.S.
It was in this context that the Awami National Party (A.N.P.) led coalition government in the province decided to turn the use of coercive state power into a measure of the last resort. The Provincial Government also decided to work through political negotiations as a tool for winning over or at-least neutralizing the dissidents who were being used as cannon fodder by the hard core terrorists. We are of the view that the terrorists can be defeated only if they are deprived of their political base which has expanded due to the flawed policies of the Government in the past. The first peace agreement was signed with the people of Dir and Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (T.N.S.M.) on 21/04/2008. Soon after the elections a Jirga from Maidan Area of Dir District approached the then Chief Minister (designate) Amir Haider Khan Hoti for peace negotiations. Initial contacts were established and the Jirga was told to wait until the formal inauguration of the new Government. After the induction of the new Provincial Government negotiations were started with the group from Dir and ultimately an agreement was signed. The people of Dir and followers of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (T.N.S.M.) pledged to renounce violence both within the Country and outside it. They condemned suicide bombing as in human and un-Islamic. They also condemned attacks on Security Forces, Government Property, Private property and people belonging to other religions. They expressed their commitment to work inside the writ of the State and abide by the rules of the Government. In return the Government released Sufi Mohammad, the leader of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (T.N.S.M.) who is in his late 70es and is a sick person. After the agreement Sufi Mohammad has abided by the contents of the agreement. The agreement has also demonstrated that it is possible to preach one’s religious ideas peacefully without inviting the wrath of the State. The aforementioned experience has successfully demolished the myth that people with explicit religious ideas are targeted and victimized by the Government.
Another peace agreement was signed by the Provincial Government with the Fazalullah led group in Swat. The said group had contacted the Government for peace talks through the elected members of the Provincial Assembly from Swat belonging to Awami National Party (A.N.P.). After two sessions the two sides signed agreement on 21/05/2008. Again Fazalullah group renounced violence in all forms particularly suicide bombing. They pledged to refrain from attacks on security forces, Government installations and private property. They agreed to close training camps meant for training terrorists and bringing F.M. Radio Stations under legal control. They also agreed to the participation of Government representatives in running the religious seminary which is to be developed into a full fledged Islamic University with modern education system.
Reference to the imposition of Shariah in the Malakand Division has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by the media and several other quarters. In fact, Fazalullah group representatives categorically said during the negotiations that they are not demanding any new legislation and their demand for Shariah was confirmed to the administration of justice in Malakand division. Their demand was nothing more or nothing less than the full application of Nizam-e-Adle Regulation of 1999, which is already there in the book. Actually, this demand represents the frustrations of the people of the former princely states of Swat and Dir with our judicial system as they were used to simple, quick and no-cast justice system. The provincial government intends to introduce a package of reforms in the system making it more effective and responsive to the needs of the people of Malakand Division.
This agreement has a positive impact on the over-all security situation in Swat where life is gradually returning to normalcy after months of bloody armed conflict. There is joint committee for monitoring the implementation of the agreement. So far no major violation of the agreement has been reported. There are two very important implications of the aforementioned peace agreement. One, if Fazalullah group for some reason decide to violate the agreement they would not be fighting a Holy war against “the Anti-Islamic forces” but they will be launching a mutiny against a popularly elected Government that had given them a chance for embracing peace. In that case they would totally loose face and the population of Swat will support Government action against them. Two, the Government’s campaign against militancy and terror will gain a new legitimacy. People would better understand the goals of the Government’s policy against militancy.
The above mentioned peace agreements in NWFP (Pukhtoonkhawa) is different from the ones signed in FATA in the sense that the process of the negotiation and signing has been transparent and open to media and public scrutiny. The provincial agreements have also refrained from freeing prisoners suspected for terrorist activities and last but not the least the provincial agreements have renounced violence inside and outside the Country, precluding the possibility of cross border fighting from the settled districts.
The Provincial Government of NWFP (Pukhtoonkhawa) is not confining its efforts against militancy to the peace negotiations. It is making hectic efforts to reinvigorate the internal security system in the province. It is recruiting more policemen and also providing them with better equipment and training. It is building a seven and a half thousands strong elite force in Police for combating terrorists. This force will be fully equipped with latest equipments needed for fighting terrorism. It will be ready for rapid deployment in any part of the province where it is needed. The Provincial Government is in contact with the Central Government for bringing the Provincial Police and Frontier Constabulary (F.C.) under a joint command. Frontier Constabulary will be deployed for tough policing in the troubled parts of the province. Unfortunately the internal security system has received no substantial investment during the last few decades and is lagging behind the conventional security Institutions. With changes in demographic balances, social relations and security environment, the internal security system requires fundamental up-gradation. The Provincial Government is meeting this challenge in spite of its very limited resources. As a front line province, NWFP expects support from the Federal Government and International Community.