ISLAMABAD — Gunmen in Pakistan have shot dead the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of one of the most powerful Afghan militant groups fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan. The incident took place late Sunday near the Pakistani capital.
Nasiruddin Haqqani was the chief financier and emissary for the al-Qaida-linked insurgent network.
Eyewitnesses say that two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle gunned down the militant leader late Sunday in a residential area (Barakau) on the outskirts of Islamabad.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. His body was moved to the North Waziristan tribal district where he was buried in the central town of Miranshah on Monday. The volatile militant-dominated Pakistani region borders Afghanistan and severs as a major base for Haqqani fighters.
The United States branded the network a terrorist organization last year and has long accused Pakistani spy agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), of supporting the militant group's deadly actions in Afghanistan.
It was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran guerrilla commander from southeast Afghanistan who rose to prominence fighting Soviet occupation forces in the 1980s.
The United States has repeatedly demanded Islamabad mobilize military forces to uproot Haqqani bases in the Waziristan region. Pakistan maintains that its troops are stretched too thin dealing with domestic Taliban insurgents.
But critics say Islamabad’s sympathetic approach towards Afghan fugitive insurgents has emboldened the local militancy.
Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Ashraf Jehangir Qazi says the policy has a major source of suspicions in bilateral relations.
“It is a source of friction like a lot of things are. It is part of the overall American complaint that the Afghan Taliban or the Afghan resistance led by the Afghan Taliban is able to sort of have safe havens and sanctuaries on Pakistani territory from where they launch attacks on American and Afghan forces. And this is linked to the internal problems in Pakistan where we have the TTP, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is similarly based in North Waziristan and they have links to the [outlawed] organizations in other parts of Pakistan," said Qazi.
Pakistan’s reluctance to move against militants in North Waziristan has prompted United States to target Haqqani bases and fighters with drone attacks. The extremists fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan have carried out some of the deadliest attacks on American-led allied forces in recent years.
The slain militant’s younger brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, now heads the network founded by their father.