News / Asia

US Presses Pakistan for Action on Haqqani Network‎

Sirajuddin Haqqani, far left, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, far right, then Taliban Army Supreme Commander, meet with reporters in Miram Shah, Waziristan on Aug. 22, 1998 (file photo).
Sirajuddin Haqqani, far left, and Jalaluddin Haqqani, far right, then Taliban Army Supreme Commander, meet with reporters in Miram Shah, Waziristan on Aug. 22, 1998 (file photo).

Since last week's brazen 20-hour attack on the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and other buildings in Kabul, one issue has topped the agenda in meetings between high-level U.S. and Pakistani officials: How to deal with the Haqqani network, a group closely allied with both the Taliban and al-Qaida that U.S. military commanders have called "most resilient enemy network" fighting against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The group is named after the ethnic Pashtun father and son who lead it. The elder Jalaluddin Haqqani fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan and later sided with the Taliban during the Afghan civil war. Since NATO forces became involved in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the network has reportedly set up bases in North Waziristan, a region of Pakistan along the Afghan border where there is a large Pashtun population.

The issue of Pakistan's relationship with the Haqqanis has been a sensitive topic between Washington and Islamabad for years. Speaking recently on Pakistani state radio, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said Washington is losing patience with Pakistani support for the group.

"We have said in the past that there is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistani government," he said. "This is something that must stop. We have to make sure that we work together to fight terrorism, to recognize the common enemy, the people who attack Pakistanis, the people who attack Americans, the people who [orchestrated] events like what happened in Kabul."

According to some observers, Pakistani authorities do not view the Haqqanis as a threat because they do not attack Pakistani interests. Analysts also believe Pakistan is using the Haqqanis as a "strategic hedge" in Afghanistan, with an eye to the eventual pullout of U.S.-led coalition forces from the country.

Punjab University Professor Hassan Askari says Islamabad fears that if it bows to U.S. pressure to attack the Haqqanis, it will stir up a virtual hornet's nest that the impoverished and militarily-stretched country can ill afford.

"The worry is that if they go into North Waziristan, they may not quickly succeed, and there will be more suicide attacks and other terrorist activities within Pakistan that will destabilize the country or undermine whatever reputation still exists for the government," he said.

On dangerous ground
Another problem is that the North Waziristan territory from which the Haqqanis operate is mountainous and remote. A very difficult terrain on which to wage military campaigns, the region's local population is fiercely independent and resentful of any control, even by Islamabad. Its border with Afghanistan is long and porous.

Pakistan's former ambassador to Afghanistan, Ayaz Wazir, says the international forces in Afghanistan have the resources to go after Haqqani fighters when they cross over, but when asked about sealing the border itself, he poses a rhetorical question. If the superpowers who came to Afghanistan can’t control the border, how can Pakistan be expected to?

"This porous border which the Soviets could not seal, which the Americans cannot seal, which NATO and American forces together cannot seal," he said. "The might of the world is sitting in the small country called Afghanistan, and if they cannot stop [the group] from entering into the country and creating problems, [how can] a poor country like Pakistan with little resources?"

Still, U.S. pressure to end support for the Haqqani network is mounting. A day after Ambassador Munter made his comments on Pakistani state radio, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Pakistan to take action against the network during a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Mullen accuses Pakistan of waging 'proxy war'
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that during a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani, he had discussed support given to the Haqqani network by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

"We covered a full range of issues focusing on the danger of the Haqqani network, specifically the need for the ISI to disconnect from Haqqani and from this proxy war that they’re fighting," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the U.S. would “take whatever steps are necessary" to protect its forces in Afghanistan from attacks by the Haqqani network.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. and Pakistani officials, reported Wednesday that Obama administration officials have indicated the U.S. will act "unilaterally" if Pakistan does not cut ties with the Haqqani network and "help eliminate its leaders."

According to AFP and The Associated Press, U.S. officials who did not want to be named reported the U.S. has agreed to limit the number of military personnel stationed in Pakistan. Immediately after the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May, Pakistani officials called for U.S. to withdraw personnel who were helping train Pakistan's military in counterinsurgency tactics.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More