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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 07:00 GMT
Key Pakistan governor steps down
By Sanjay Dasgupta
BBC News

Former governor of Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province, retired Lt Gen  Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai
Lt Gen Orakzai's peace deal with local elders failed
The governor of Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province, Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, has resigned.

The development comes amid continuing violence linked to Islamist guerrillas hiding in remote, mountainous villages near the Afghan border.

Retired Lt Gen Orakzai, one of the few officers of tribal origin in the upper echelons of the Pakistani army, cited personal reasons for his departure.

But the continuing violence in tribal areas may have brought it about.

Border deal

Gen Orakzai was appointed governor of the North West Frontier Province with a mandate to improve the security situation there.

His biggest gamble was to negotiate a peace deal with local tribal leaders in September 2006, after months of bitter clashes between the army and Islamist militants that killed hundreds on both sides.


Under the deal, tribal elders agreed not to allow cross-border attacks in Afghanistan to be launched from their villages and promised not to provide shelter to foreign militants.

In return, the Pakistani army agreed to relent in its military operations aimed at capturing militants hiding in tribal villages.

It did not work.

About a year later, pro-Taleban militants in the tribal areas withdrew unilaterally from the deal, alleging that the Pakistani army had not kept its part of the bargain - military checkpoints were still being set up, they said, in tribal areas.

But some observers point out the deal fell through just months after Pakistani troops launched a military assault on a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad, killing more than 100 people.

Whatever the real reason, the violence in the tribal areas continued, and that contributed to Gen Orakzai's departure.

The new governor, Owais Ahmed Ghani, has been known for his tough action - which often took the form of brutal force - against Baluch nationalists.

If his appointment indicates anything, it must be that for the Pakistani authorities, the use of force is still very much an option in dealing with militancy in the tribal areas.

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