Tribes turn on Al Qaeda in Pakistan (updated)

As explained  by Ray Robison  on these pages, Coalition forces in Pakistan have been splitting Al Qaeda from local tribes, much as AQ has been isolated from its local support in Iraq, with tribal leaders turning against it. Now it appears that this move is bearing publicly-visible fruit.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports

WANA, Jan 9: Thousands of armed tribesmen of South Waziristan met here on Wednesday, vowing to organise a Lashkar to hunt down Al Qaeda-linked militants blamed for killing nine of their kinsmen.

The tribal jirga in Wana came three days after militants stormed two offices and killed nine tribal elders of a government-sponsored peace committee.

The jirga ordered tribesmen from every household belonging to the Wazir tribe to come to Wana with arms to prepare for action, a local official said.

"One man from each house should come to Wana with a gun at 10am on Thursday to plan our defence and act against those who are responsible for disorder," tribal chief Malik Ghaffar told the gathering.

Wazir tribe chief Maulvi Nazir, who earned fame after he drove out hundreds of Uzbeks from the region last year in bloody clashes, is expected to address the Lashkar on Thursday.

He did not turn up at Wednesday's meeting but had earlier blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a local Al Qaeda commander and leader of the rival Mehsud tribe, for the killing of the peace committee members.
This represents another triumph for our War on Terror strategy. It didn't just happen. It is the product of a complex series of moves. Note that while Pakistan's President Musharraf may be cooperating with this tribal initiative, it is not a political initiative of the government. Indeed, the limited ability of the formal government of Pakistan to control this territory has been an obstacle in the past.

Hat tip: The Astute Blogger 

Update:  Andrew Bostom writes:

Here is a sobering/depressing counterpoint from a reporter:*
Not surprisingly, many Punjabis are now openly voicing the fear if the deteriorating situation in the Pashtun belt (NWFP and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan) is not arrested and reversed fast, the frontier would be lost. And if the frontier is lost, then Baluchistan, too, would break away from Pakistan.
This anecdote was especially depressing:

According to another Pashtun journalist, who has been reporting the Islamist insurgency from ground-zero, there have been many desertions from the paramilitary forces (the Frontier Corp and Tribal Levies). He spoke about a friend of his who quit the tribal levies because he was warned by his father that if he died fighting the Taliban, let alone getting a burial, even his body will not be permitted to enter the village.
*Thanks to Laurie Mylroie for pointing out that the reporter is an Indian, not a Pakistani, as previously reported.

Update: Ray Robison writes:

I actually don’t see that as a counter point but as a consequence. I predicted there was essentially going to be a Taliban civil war. So yeah, it’s gonna get messy in the administered areas, but that is what we WANT to happen. Musharraf (and the US) doesn’t need to send in forces to kill the Taliban if they are killing each other. The Pakistan government will not fall over this, though thhave a rough time ahead. It may even move the military and the democrats closer together.

As explained  by Ray Robison  on these pages, Coalition forces in Pakistan have been splitting Al Qaeda from local tribes, much as AQ has been isolated from its local support in Iraq, with tribal leaders turning against it. Now it appears that this move is bearing publicly-visible fruit.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports

WANA, Jan 9: Thousands of armed tribesmen of South Waziristan met here on Wednesday, vowing to organise a Lashkar to hunt down Al Qaeda-linked militants blamed for killing nine of their kinsmen.

The tribal jirga in Wana came three days after militants stormed two offices and killed nine tribal elders of a government-sponsored peace committee.

The jirga ordered tribesmen from every household belonging to the Wazir tribe to come to Wana with arms to prepare for action, a local official said.

"One man from each house should come to Wana with a gun at 10am on Thursday to plan our defence and act against those who are responsible for disorder," tribal chief Malik Ghaffar told the gathering.

Wazir tribe chief Maulvi Nazir, who earned fame after he drove out hundreds of Uzbeks from the region last year in bloody clashes, is expected to address the Lashkar on Thursday.

He did not turn up at Wednesday's meeting but had earlier blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a local Al Qaeda commander and leader of the rival Mehsud tribe, for the killing of the peace committee members.
This represents another triumph for our War on Terror strategy. It didn't just happen. It is the product of a complex series of moves. Note that while Pakistan's President Musharraf may be cooperating with this tribal initiative, it is not a political initiative of the government. Indeed, the limited ability of the formal government of Pakistan to control this territory has been an obstacle in the past.

Hat tip: The Astute Blogger 

Update:  Andrew Bostom writes:

Here is a sobering/depressing counterpoint from a reporter:*
Not surprisingly, many Punjabis are now openly voicing the fear if the deteriorating situation in the Pashtun belt (NWFP and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan) is not arrested and reversed fast, the frontier would be lost. And if the frontier is lost, then Baluchistan, too, would break away from Pakistan.
This anecdote was especially depressing:

According to another Pashtun journalist, who has been reporting the Islamist insurgency from ground-zero, there have been many desertions from the paramilitary forces (the Frontier Corp and Tribal Levies). He spoke about a friend of his who quit the tribal levies because he was warned by his father that if he died fighting the Taliban, let alone getting a burial, even his body will not be permitted to enter the village.
*Thanks to Laurie Mylroie for pointing out that the reporter is an Indian, not a Pakistani, as previously reported.

Update: Ray Robison writes:

I actually don’t see that as a counter point but as a consequence. I predicted there was essentially going to be a Taliban civil war. So yeah, it’s gonna get messy in the administered areas, but that is what we WANT to happen. Musharraf (and the US) doesn’t need to send in forces to kill the Taliban if they are killing each other. The Pakistan government will not fall over this, though thhave a rough time ahead. It may even move the military and the democrats closer together.