By Editor Aug1,2023 #Al Qaeda #Pakistan #Taliban

The Shakai Agreement witnessed the emergence of many more
characters in Al-Qaeda’s version of A Thousand and One Nights.
Tahir Yaldochiv was prominent among them. He later played a key
role in the recruiting such tribal militants as Abdullah Mehsud,
alias Muhammad Alam, and Baitullah Mehsud, together with an
Uzbek force of 2,500 men. The Uzbeks were to give the Pakistani
militants lessons in brutality to establish a reign of terror: their
tactics included routinely slitting the throats of their foes.
The following are details of the main signatories to the treaty.
Each one of them was important. In the official document Nek
Muhammad was noted as a mujahid (holy warrior). According to
documents the signatories to the Shakai Agreement were:

  • Muhammad Miraj Uddin
  • Maulana Abdul Malik
  • Maulana Akhtar Gul
  • Muhammad Abbas
  • Nek Muhammad (mujahid)
  • Haji Sharif
  • Baitullah Mehsud
  • Noor Islam
  • Muhammad Javed
  • Muhammad Alam alias Abdullah.
    Muhammad Miraj Uddin and Maulana Abdul Malik were two
    Pakistani parliamentarians from the pro-Taliban six-party religious alliance, MMA (Muttehida Majls-e-Amal). Maulana Akhtar Gul
    was a local pro-Taliban cleric. Muhammad Abbas, Nek Muhammad,
    Haji Sharif, Noor Islam, and Mohammad Javed were pure militants.
    Muhammad Alam, alias Abdullah, was the famously defiant
    Abdullah Mehsud who became the top leader of the Pakistani
    Taliban. (He was killed in Pakistan’s south-western province of
    Balochistan, in the district of Zhoab, in July 2007.) This quick
    glance at the list shows how in 2004 the political alliance of the
    Taliban and Al-Qaeda had replaced the pro-establishment tribal

The main clauses of the agreement were:

  • The government would release all prisoners.
  • The government would pay compensation for the suhada
    (martyred)/injured during the operation.
  • The government would pay compensation for collateral damage
    to material during the military operation.
  • The government would not take action against Nek Muhammad
    and other wanted individuals.
  • The government would allow foreign mujahideen to live
    peacefully in Waziristan.
    Against this:
  • The mujahideen (local militants) would not resort to any action
    against the land and government of Pakistan.
  • The mujahideen from Waziristan would not undertake any action
    against Afghanistan.
    The agreement failed because of conflicting interpretations regarding
    the clause of “foreigners’ registration.” The government claimed
    that the militants would register “foreign fighters” in the area and
    surrender them. The militants claimed that no such clause had been

present in the agreement. This began a new period of confronta-
tion, with Pakistan’s military starting another operation in South

Waziristan. But Al-Qaeda was ready to retaliate. The first reaction
to the operation came in Pakistan’s largest city, the southern port of
Karachi, where the then Corps commander, General Ahsan Saleem
Hayat (later promoted to Pakistani vice chief of army staff) was
attacked. He survived the attack, but several of the military men
around him were killed. The attack was credited to Jundullah’s
Karachi cell. The attackers were arrested, and Pakistan resolved to take more serious action against the militancy after a hellfire missile
launched from a US Predator drone on 19 June 2004 had killed Nek.
The duration of the agreement was less than 50 days, but its effects
were pervasive:

  • The tribal dissidents grew into a powerful militant group
    which became a permanent feature of the tribal landscape and
    reinforced the polarization.
  • The government of Pakistan strongly supported the stance of
    the United States on the “War on Terror” and militarized the
  • Militants were given “equal party status” which was superior to
    the tribes.

Nek Muhammad’s demise was the end of a legend, but new char-
acters of equal stature had already been reared by Al-Qaeda, and

in the coming months, they emerged one after the other. Al-Qaeda
visionaries helped them expand their horizons.
Haji Omar was in his fifties, and marked out to be Nek
Muhammad’s successor. He was from the same tribe, but Al-Qaeda
did not believe in hereditary leadership, especially in the case of Haji
Omar, who was too old to be molded into Al-Qaeda’s strategy. They
were looking for someone in his twenties – like Nek Muhammad.
Two youths, Abdullah Mehsud and Baitullah Mehsud, were chosen
by the Al-Qaeda leadership. The Uzbek warlord Tahir Yaldochiv
was close to both of them. Like Nek Muhammad, both youths came
from ordinary backgrounds. However, their Mehsud tribe was the
difference. Unlike the Wazirs, the Mehsud tribe had always been
close to the Pakistani establishment. They were better educated and
better off than most tribespeople. Money had little to do with their
recruitment. Tahir supported them with over 2,500 Uzbek militia,
and with that they resorted to a culture of vandalism.
Born in 1974 in the village of Nano in South Waziristan, Abdullah
Mehsud’s real name was Muhammad Alam Mahsud. He was a
member of the Mehsud clan, Saleemi Khel, in South Waziristan.
He had a diploma in commerce (D.Com.) from Peshawar. Abdullah
Mehsud had fought against the United States and the Northern
Alliance forces in Afghanistan, and had lost a leg to a landmine in
1996 during the opening days of “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
In December 2001, he surrendered to the Uzbek warlord Abdul
Rashid Dostum in the “Battle of Kunduz.” He was then handed
over to the United States and spent 25 months in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where he was fitted with a prosthetic limb.
Mehsud was later released by the United States and returned to
South Waziristan. Imprisonment had not eroded his faith in the
Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and when he returned to South Waziristan,
he became close to Tahir Yaldochiv, who then pitched him against
Pakistan’s security forces. He next went to the Afghan province of
Helmand to fight alongside the Taliban against NATO troops, but
while passing through the district of Zhob, in Pakistan’s Balochistan
province, on his way back from Afghanistan to South Waziristan,
he was surrounded by Pakistan’s security forces. He refused to
surrender and committed suicide by blowing himself up with a hand
Baitullah Mehsud was born in early 1974 in the village of Landi
Dhok in the Bannu district of Pakistan’s former North West Frontier
Province (NWFP), which is now called Khyber Paktoonkhwa. He
hailed from the Broomi Khel side of the Shabi Khel subtribe of the
Mehsud, and was one of five brothers. He avoided media attention
and refused to be photographed in conformity with his religious
beliefs. He never finished formal school but received instruction
in a madrassa (Islamic seminary). As a young madrassa student,
Baitullah would often travel into Afghanistan to assist the Taliban
in their implementation of sharia (the sacred law of Islam), and their
fight against the Northern Alliance. He emerged as another major
tribal leader after the 2004 death of Nek Muhammad.
In a ceremony attended by five leading Taliban commanders,
including Mullah Dadullah, Baitullah was appointed Mullah Omar’s
governor for the Mehsud area. He then became close to the Uzbek
leader Tahir Yaldochiv, and Tahir’s ideological commitment left a
deep impression on him. Al-Qaeda had differences over Baitullah
Mehsud’s modus operandi, but it did not have much choice as he
was the guardian of the movement in the two Waziristans. (Mehsud
was killed in a CIA drone strike in August 2009.)
Abdullah Mehsud and Baitullah Mehsud developed differences,
and Abdullah was forced to abdicate command in favor of Baitullah.
This notwithstanding, both Pakistani militants played a crucial role
in the demolition of the tribal structure by forcing the tribal elders
to flee from their respective areas. They then became the biggest
warlords of the region.
The Pakistan government was once again forced to surrender –
this time to the now militant Mehsud tribe. The terms of surrender
surfaced in the shape of the Srarogha peace deal in February 2005.
This deal was agreed between the pro-Taliban militant Baitullah Mehsud and the government of Pakistan through local jirga
mediation on February 7, 2005 at Srarogha, South Waziristan. It
was a six-clause, written agreement which included:

  • Baitullah and his group would neither harbor nor support any
    foreign fighter in his area.
  • Baitullah and his supporters would not attack any government
    functionary or damage government property. Also, they would
    not cause any hindrance to development activities.
  • The government would not take action against Baitullah and his
    supporters for their past acts. However, if found to be involved
    in any kind of terrorist or criminal activities in the future, they would be dealt with according to the prevailing laws in the Feder-
    ally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). If any culprit were found

present in the Mehsud area, he would be handed over to the
The agreement read:

  • We pledge that if any culprit (not from the Baitullah group) is
    found in this area, the Mehsud tribe will hand him over to the
    government and the government is empowered to take action
    under FCR (Frontier Crimes Regulations).1
  • All those issues not covered under this agreement will be resolved
    through mutual consultation between the political administration
    and the Mahsud tribe.
  • In case of violation of any of the above clauses, the political
    administration is empowered to take a legal course of action.
    The agreement was signed by Baitullah Mehsud and members of the
    jirga (Malik Inayatullah Khan, Malik Qayum Sher, and Malik Sher
    Bahadar Shamankhel).
    A few comments on this agreement:
  • No clause was inserted in the agreement regarding cross-border
    infiltration or attacks in Afghanistan.
  • There was no clause that foreign fighters would be surrendered.
  • There was no clause requiring the militants to lay down arms.
  • Controversies arose over reports of money payments to the
    militants during peace negotiations.
  • Abdullah Mehsud, the second most important commander, opted
    out of the agreement.Technically, the Shakai Agreement in 2004 granted a new lease
    of life to Al-Qaeda by allowing Al-Qaeda’s local tribal allies to
    strengthen their control and provide the space Al-Qaeda required
    to spread the tentacles of its war game. Having gained complete
    control of South Waziristan (held by the Mehsud and Wazir tribes),
    Al-Qaeda now had huge bases to operate from. But that was not
    enough. The network of Al-Qaeda’s influence in the tribal region
    and in Pakistani cities required it to broaden its bases to include a
    steady supply of new recruits and form cells which could effectively
    smooth the sharp edges of Pakistan’s alliance with the United States
    over the war in Afghanistan. Then Al-Qaeda could emerge strong
    enough to fight the war in Afghanistan with focused minds. From
    here we can see how Al-Qaeda’s moves eventually shaped the course
    of future battles.
    With Al-Qaeda having planted its feet firmly in South Waziristan,
    some of the top Arab ideologues moved to the town of Razmak,
    situated at the crossroads between North Waziristan and South
    Waziristan. Close by is the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan.
    The opportunities to launch operations from North Waziristan were
    better than those in South Waziristan. South Waziristan was more a
    Taliban outpost of Helmand province, directly under the influence
    of the Afghan Taliban. North Waziristan was different. Most of
    the militants there were stand-alone operators. Therefore North
    Waziristan provided much more space for Al-Qaeda to use as its
    international headquarters.
    Jalaluddin Haqqani had been a legendary fighter against the
    Soviets. He pledged his allegiance to the Taliban, but was not part of
    the Taliban movement when it emerged, in 1994, as a student militia
    against the warlords of Afghanistan. Even after the US attack,
    Haqqani remained attached to the Taliban, but he still personally
    micro-managed his strategies in his fight against NATO troops. His
    sons Naseeruddin Haqqani and Sirajuddin Haqqani, however, were
    very close to the Arab fighters.
    Unlike South Waziristan, where despite ideological unanimity
    the Mehsud and Wazir tribes often had differences with each other,
    North Waziristan was a united Wazir domain. The Dawar tribe also
    lives in North Waziristan, but is subservient to the Wazirs, and thus
    has never taken a stand against them.
    Al-Qaeda understood that US pressure would obligate Pakistan
    to launch more operations, and ultimately the theater of war would
    expand to other Pakistani tribal areas where the United States
    would engage directly with Al-Qaeda followers. Al-Qaeda therefore sought to establish a series of strong ideological “forts,” so that the
    conquest of one fort by the United States and/or its allies would
    not end the struggle. The aim of the Al-Qaeda exercise was to
    convince the tribesmen to forge a united front against the Pakistani
    Jalaluddin Haqqani was the leading Taliban warlord in North
    Waziristan. Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had contacted him and
    assured him that the military operations in North Waziristan were
    superficial, and that once the situation changed, Pakistan would
    support the Taliban again. Haqqani believed this and so he was not
    ready to take up arms against Pakistan. However, Al-Qaeda knew
    on the basis of its previous experiences in 2002 and 2003, that
    given the rising influence of the United States in Pakistan, one day
    Pakistan would have to fight a real war against the Taliban. That
    understanding took Sheikh Essa Al-Misri (Al-Qaeda’s ideologue:
    for more about him see page 27), then in his seventies, to North
    Essa did not speak to any of the major mujahideen leaders.
    Instead he picked up two clerics from the Dawar tribe, Moulvi
    Sadiq Noor and Abdul Khaliq Haqqani, and convinced them that
    there was no difference between Pakistan’s establishment and that
    of the United States. Rather, the Pakistan armed forces were worse,
    because although they had been born Muslims, they were supportive
    of the US and Israeli agenda.
    Moulvi Sadiq Noor and Abdul Khaliq Haqqani’s Friday sermons
    against Pakistan’s armed forces turned the towns of Mir Ali and
    Darpa Khail in North Waziristan into Al-Qaeda fortresses. These
    were just microcosms of the wider situation. There were hidden
    hands macro-managing higher developments. At one level some
    Al-Qaeda ideologues were winning the hearts and the minds of the
    local clerics and warlords, but at another level Al-Qaeda strategists
    covertly advised local warlords to gather collective strength from
    the Mujahideen Council and cement relationships on the basis of
    ideology, rather than tribal customs.
    In December 2005, the Pakistani Taliban stunned the world
    with the execution of several robbers in North Waziristan. This
    was an indication that they had taken over the security of the area.
    Previously, the Pakistani Taliban had distanced itself from local
    affairs. As a consequence, the two Waziristans had become a paradise
    for drug smugglers, car thieves, bandits, and child abductors. These
    criminals had mostly committed their crimes in Pakistani cities and
    then retreated to their villages in the two Waziristans. However, they now also began to run rampant in the tribal areas. They raided
    other villages to loot and plunder, and they set up checkpoints and
    collected money from all travelers. The Pakistani Taliban had turned
    a blind eye to these activities, since they were obsessed with their
    Jihad against the United States and NATO in Afghanistan. However,
    Al-Qaeda now wanted the Pakistani Taliban to engage in local
    politics, in conformance with its strategy of turning the tribal areas
    into its strategic base. Thus, for the first time the Pakistani Taliban
    openly announced that they would run affairs in the territory, and
    not the Pakistani armed forces, or the local bandits, or the tribal
    elders. They executed almost 30 bandits in public. They hanged
    them before dragging their bodies through the streets. They took
    film footage of all these events, and released it initially to Asia
    Times Online. When the images were released in February 2006,
    a month before President Bush’s visit to Pakistan, they created a
    storm around the world. Media outlets acquired the films from this
    author, and the footage was released on major international TV
    channels. Not long after their retreat from Afghanistan, the Taliban
    and Al-Qaeda announced the establishment of the Islamic State of
    North Waziristan, with a Taliban police to combat vice and crime.
    The outside world saw the development simply as the formation
    of the Islamic State of North Waziristan, but Al-Qaeda had already
    restructured this part of the tribal areas to establish an Islamic state.
    Al-Qaeda’s larger plan was to lay the ground for the restructuring
    all of the tribal areas in this fashion – to have them fully functional
    as Al-Qaeda forts, before expanding into the whole of the former
    NWFP as well as Balochistan. In this way it could cut all of NATO’s
    supply lines through Pakistan and thus force the Western allies to
    engage in a long, draining war.
    However, the real battlefield was always Afghanistan, and
    Al-Qaeda gains in the two Waziristans in 2005 were intended above
    all to advantage the Afghan Taliban in fighting the United States
    and its NATO allies there. The story, which started after 9/11 with
    Al-Qaeda migrating to the Pakistan tribal areas for a large-scale
    indoctrination campaign, targeted victory in Afghanistan’s Helmand
    province and then the whole of south-west Afghanistan.
    Al-Qaeda ensured that the Taliban would return to Afghanistan
    with finance, a strategy, recruits, and a restructured command
    system. The Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan in summer 2006
    alarmed the Western coalition. The summer 2006 battle literally
    floored them, for they had had no idea of the developments that
    had taken place in the shadows of Pakistan’s tribal areas. They were convinced the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’s back had been broken
    once and for all. The Taliban’s comeback in 2006, with the help
    of Al-Qaeda, established the militants as the major regional player.
    Time proved that the Taliban’s successful 2006 spring offensive was
    Al-Qaeda’s watershed. After this time, Al-Qaeda clearly dominated
    Pakistan in 2007 and 2008, expanded its operations into India in
    late 2008, and opened up a theater of war in Chechnya in 2010.
    Thus during and before the spring of 2006, we see Al-Qaeda
    providing space for the Afghan Taliban to operate freely and go
    back into a kind of withdrawal mode. But in reality it was planning
    the 2006 offensive to put pressure on the United States, and it had
    well prepared the stage for this.

By Editor

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