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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Tribe in Pakistan security plea
Pakistan soldier near Wana, South Waziristan
Troops were sent in after the 11 September attacks on the US
One of the main tribes in Pakistan's tense border region with Afghanistan has urged Islamabad to resume control of law and order in the area.

The call from the Ahmadzai Wazirs in South Waziristan came after weeks of fighting with mostly Uzbek militants.

Pakistan ceded control of security to pro-Taleban militants in the area after a controversial 2004 peace deal.

Critics said it gave Taleban and al-Qaeda militants a safe haven from which to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's government maintains that most insurgent attacks in Afghanistan are carried out by militants based in that country.

Fines

President Musharraf sent troops into the lawless tribal area to hunt foreign militants and secure the border after backing the US-led "war on terror" in 2001.

map

More than 700 Pakistani security personnel have been killed in fighting in the area since 2002, prompting the government to negotiate the contentious peace deals.

Under the agreements, troops were to maintain a reduced presence and tribesmen promised either not to harbour foreign fighters or to ensure they did not engage in militancy.

But at a meeting on Sunday, the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe reversed the deal and undertook not to shelter Uzbek militants and their supporters, most of them signatories of the 2004 deal.

The meeting also announced heavy fines and banishment from the area for those found to be supporting the Uzbeks, engaging in criminal activity or blocking development projects initiated by the government.

The government has not yet responded to the tribesmen's appeal, but admitted publicly last week that troops were backing local Pashtuns against the Uzbeks.

The tribe dominates the western parts of the South Waziristan agency, and controls lucrative border trade routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says recent fighting between members of the tribe and the Uzbeks is complicated by the fact that some members of a powerful sub-tribe within the Ahmadzai Wazirs have fought with the foreigners.

Our correspondent says this makes it difficult for the civil administration to make a comeback in the area.

The previous system - where the government's writ was implemented by a political agent through a locally-raised tribal police force and the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) - was undermined when troops were first sent in and then pulled out, creating an administrative vaccuum, he says.

Army role

Sunday's meeting followed a month-long armed campaign, led by a local Taleban commander Mullah Nazir who is from the tribe, to evict the Central Asian militants and their supporters from the region.

Militiamen in South Waziristan
Militants have de facto control of swathes of the tribal areas

On Thursday, President Musharraf admitted publicly for the first time that the army had helped tribal fighters battling foreign militants near the town of Wana, in South Waziristan.

The army had until then denied any role in the fighting, saying locals had risen up to drive out foreigners, among them al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters.

President Musharraf said about 300 foreign militants had been killed in several weeks of clashes. Local sources put the figure much lower, at fewer than 100.

The authorities say fighting broke out after tribesmen accused Uzbek militants of criminal behaviour.

But BBC correspondents say the military may want to highlight the uprising against the Uzbeks because it is under pressure from the West to move against foreign fighters in the tribal areas.


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