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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – Pakistan's army, in the midst of a major new offensive against Taliban militants, has struck deals to keep two powerful, anti-U.S. tribal chiefs from joining the battle against the government, officials said Monday.
The deals increase the chances of an army victory against Pakistan's enemy No. 1, but indicate that the 3-day-old assault into the Taliban's strongholds in South Waziristan may have less effect than the U.S. wants on a spreading insurgency across the border in Afghanistan.
Under the terms agreed to about three weeks ago, Taliban renegades Maulvi
The Pakistanis, however, aren't attacking Taliban and other militants who are attacking U.S., Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Abbas confirmed that Pakistani authorities have an "understanding" with two Taliban factions based in Waziristan, led by warlords Maulvi Nazir and Gul Bahadur, who are fighting in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.
"There was an understanding with them that they will not interfere in this war," Abbas said. "There is always a strategy to isolate your main target." He added that people "sometimes have to talk to the devil in this regard."
U.S. officials have been pressing the Pakistanis to stop distinguishing between militant groups that are targeting their country and those that are active in Afghanistan, arguing that many of the groups share sources of financing, training and arms, and that militants sometimes move among the groups.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The government announced Monday that it would accept a system of Islamic law in the Swat valley and agreed to a truce, effectively conceding the area as a Taliban sanctuary and suspending a faltering effort by the army to crush the insurgents.
Pakistanis in Miran Shah, near the Afghan border, on Sunday at funerals of people described as victims of a United States missile attack on a Taliban compound.
The concessions to the militants, who now control about 70 percent of the region just 100 miles from the capital, were criticized by Pakistani analysts as a capitulation by a government desperate to stop Taliban abuses and a military embarrassed at losing ground after more than a year of intermittent fighting. About 3,000 Taliban militants have kept 12,000 government troops at bay and terrorized the local population with floggings and the burning of schools.
In a dramatic shift, some U.S. military and civilian officials in Afghanistan are now trying to negotiate with Afghan Taliban fighters to encourage them to "reintegrate." Although no program yet exists, the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul recently created a "cell" to address these efforts and formalize this outreach -- a technique some commanders report they are already using.