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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs