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He fled with his family and has settled with about 7,000 other Bajaur refugees at a tent camp on the edge of Peshawar.

Bruce Riedel, a veteran South Asia analyst for the CIA and author of a new book, “The Search for al Qaeda,” said, “The good news is that Pakistan finally seems to be awakening to the threat posed by al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militants.”

But “playing the tribes card is difficult and tricky,” Mr. Riedel said. “People have been looking for a moderate Taliban for 10 years without any success.”

He said the tribal leadership needs more than guns - “tangible economic steps to undermine the extremists appeal.”

Malik Khan Mar Jan, a tribal leader from North Waziristan who heads a council of tribal elders, also called for economic incentives.

Today, per capita income in the tribal areas stands at $500 a year, or less than $1.50 per day.

This demands that the government reach out to locally elected leaders who are in touch with the needs of the community, Mr. Jan said.

For the time being, he said, no lashkars will be formed in North Waziristan.

Taliban forces headed by Jalaluddin Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadar have “absolute” command in that area, he said, and their grip is reinforced by poverty, isolation and the U.S. drone attacks that have killed dozens of civilians.

On Oct. 31, two more air strikes near Mr. Jan’s hometown of Miranshah killed 37 people, including foreign militants.

Some U.S. officials are concerned that weapons provided to lashkars may wind up in insurgent hands.

“There is no reason to believe that the weapons would not land in the hands of the enemy to be used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Pakistani military personnel fighting militants in the tribal areas,” said a Defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Lashkars have to be understood for what they are right now,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister of information, told The Washington Times. “These are not bands of mujahedeen. They are part of the culture of the area. But they are not a permanent self-defense entity.”

So far, the Pakistani policy seems largely to have turned the lashkars into tempting targets for al Qaeda and the Taliban.

On Oct. 10, hundreds of tribesmen assembled in Orakzai agency for a jirga of tribal elders when a suicide truck bomber struck, killing at least 60 people and wounding scores more.

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