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Report: Pakistani Peace Deal Creates 'Taleban Mini-states'

A leading international policy group says pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's tribal areas are gaining strength and intensifying attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, following a recent peace deal with the Pakistan government. VOA's Benjamin Sand has more from Islamabad.

In a new report, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group says militants are using peace deals reached with Pakistan to create a virtual sanctuary in the north of the country.

The research and policy group's Pakistan-based director, Samina Ahmed, says Islamic extremists are expanding their influence and activities.

"What we witnessed in this region is an alliance between the Taleban and local militants. In effect, in parts of the tribal agencies the militants are running parallel administrations. They are enforcing their form of Taleban- style justice," said Ahmed. "This has to end."

Suspected Taleban insurgents in and around the tribal area of North Waziristan have killed more than 100 local residents this year, after accusing them of working with the government or of being American spies.

A controversial peace deal reached in September between the Pakistan government and groups in North Waziristan was meant to isolate foreign insurgents and help control local militants operating inside Pakistan's tribal belt.

The government agreed to withdraw troops from the region and end its campaign against Islamic militants. In exchange, tribal elders agreed to end their support for Taleban insurgents and stop attacking government forces.

A similar deal was reached in South Waziristan in 2004. But the International Crisis Group reports that the deals have given militants freedom "to recruit, train and arm" new insurgent forces.

Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and Chechnya are thought to be operating in the region, often with close ties to the Al Qaida terrorist network.

Ahmed says the area remains a major hub for attacks on U.S. and NATO forces operating across the border in Afghanistan.

NATO officials in Afghanistan recently confirmed that in the two Afghan provinces closest to North Waziristan, attacks have risen between 50- and 70-percent since the peace deal was signed.

Pakistani officials rejected many of the report's findings, specifically denying the presence of terrorist training camps in the tribal areas.

The Crisis Group's Samina Ahmed describes the government's policy as one of "appeasement and wishful thinking."

"The signal sent to the militants was 'you are free to do what you want as long as you do not cross red lines', and of course they crossed red lines," said Ahmed. "The government must take action. You cannot allow this kind of behavior without encouraging more bad behavior."

She says the government needs to re-establish the rule of law in tribal areas and provide greater political rights to local communities.