Pakistan is trying to persuade tribesmen in a key militant sanctuary near the Afghan border to take up arms against Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in their midst, a top political official said Tuesday.
The US has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan launch a military offensive in North Waziristan. The latest effort to bring tribesmen on board appeared to be a new attempt to replicate the successes of the US military in Iraq to turn the tribes there against Al-Qaeda.
So far, it has been less promising in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and at least two prominent North Waziristan locals said it would never work in their area. It is also unclear whether the government and the US have the same militants in mind for targeting. The Pakistani government has promoted the creation of tribal militias elsewhere in the northwest, but many of their members have been killed in militant attacks. Others have complained that the government has not given them enough support. Tariq Hayat, the top political official for Fata, said talks with the North Waziristan tribesmen began in recent days and the government has promised ‘moral and material support’, but not weapons. “If they feel now that they are strong enough and they are getting signals from the authorities about all-our support, yes they would love to throw the terrorists out from their homes,” said Hayat.
Kamran Khan, a lawmaker from North Waziristan, said he was not aware of the recent negotiations, but said people are too angry over US airstrikes in the region to back the effort. “As long as the American drones are hitting us every day, no such idea can get public support,” said Khan.