The tribal jirga of the North demanded that the government stop future military operations in North Waziristan and let the matter be settled through dialogue. Taking a page out of Imran Khan’s playbook, they have assured the KP governor that they will expel foreign jihadists in 15 days. Does this mean that the military operation is working and the tribal elders are running scared? And should the military really step back and allow the locals to handle the problem, or assert itself? It seems that everyone is sick of the TTP and its infighting, and the military is breathing down their necks now, and in such an environment, the request of the jirga makes sense. Attacks on insurgent strongholds, followed by air strikes in mid May killed more than 70 militants.
Rival factions of the TTP are infighting in the region and seven deaths were reported on Friday. This is after supporters of Khalid Mehsud, alias Khan Said Sajna, began fighting with the followers of the slain former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in April. At least a hundred militants have died and in the most recent clash Khan Said is said to have been gunned down. Credit for the sowing of this discord is often attributed to the military stepping up operations and the government opening talks with the TTP. The Khan Said faction wanted to talk, while the rest of the TTP announced it would continue its fight. There is an exodus of families from North Waziristan and the jirga’s promises might help in stopping the migration. There are reports that hundreds of people take refuge in neighbouring Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktika. But there are also reports that people were encouraged by the TTP to evacuate in anticipation of a military attack. If they stayed and interacted with the military, they would be punished.
The jirga has the backing of Taliban Shura in North Waziristan Agency and can pressurize the Shura. And all this will take is 15 days? We have been fighting this long protracted war, and North Waziristan has become the most dangerous place on earth, and all it will take is 15 days? The jirga pledged full support to the Pakistan Army and assured them that they would work for peace with them. It remains to be seen if militancy in the area is actually on its back foot, or if this was a way for the TTP to regroup. The jirga may well be genuine in its promise to bring peace, but there is a lot of slip between lip and cup, and the Taliban have never been one to give up their agenda and stop the violence.