News / Asia

    US Will Not Target Haqqanis in Afghanistan

    Army Lt. Gen. John Nicholson Jr., seen in this  Jan. 28, 2016 photo, is picked to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He says the U.S. is not targeting Haqqanis in Afghanistan.
    Army Lt. Gen. John Nicholson Jr., seen in this Jan. 28, 2016 photo, is picked to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He says the U.S. is not targeting Haqqanis in Afghanistan.
    Ayaz Gul

    The United States military for the first time has categorically stated its counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan are not targeting the Haqqani network of militants, which is fighting alongside the Taliban.

    The comment this week by Lieutenant General John “Mick” Nicholson, picked to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has come as a surprise to regional analysts who say it could be signaling a shift in Washington’s policy to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts.

    “They are not part of that designation right now…The Haqqanis are principally a focus of the Afghan security forces,” Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday when asked wether U.S. forces target the Haqqanis as part of their counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan.

    Nicholson went on to explain that the focus of U.S. counterterrorism actions are militants linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State group to prevent them from becoming a threat to the United States. Around 10,000 U.S. forces  are stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO-led Resolute Support mission to train and advise Afghan security forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.  

    But he reiterated the Haqqani network is “the number one threat” to American forces in the country and a “severe threat” to the Afghan government.

    U.S. and Afghan officials have long alleged that Haqqanis together with the Taliban are using their bases in Pakistani border territory for attacks inside Afghanistan.  

    Nicholson reiterated those concerns in his testimony, saying the United States has not been satisfied that Pakistan has put enough pressure on the Haqqanis to prevent cross-border attacks.  

    “I view it as a serious problem and this has been one of the principal challenges. It is a sanctuary that our enemies and particularly the Haqqani network have enjoyed inside Pakistan,” he said.

    The head of Islamabad-based Institute of Strategic Studies, Masood Khan, while commenting on the U.S. general’s comments regarding the Haqqani network says principal interlocutors need to “signal flexibility.”

    Afghan, Pakistani, U.S. and Chinese officials have recently initiated a four-way peace process aimed at resurrecting stated talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban.

    The contract group has held two meetings this month while a third is scheduled for February 6 in Islamabad.

    “It is absolutely imperative to bring Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. Pakistan believes that the best way to do this is through well-considered incentivization and inducement. Neither coercion nor weak blandishments would work,” said Khan.

    Nicholson praised the quadrilateral talks as “a great leap forward”, saying it should result in a road map for further Afghan peace talks.  

    “These talks are encouraging; I see reconciliation as the path towards a negotiated settlement that brings about the end of conflict in Afghanistan.”

    The Haqqani network has carried out some of the most sophisticated guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan against both local as well as foreign targets.

    Lately, it has focused its raids on targets in Kabul. The group's leadership U.S. officials believe has links to the Pakistani spy agency, charges Islamabad denies.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Haron from: Afghanistan
    January 31, 2016 8:22 AM
    @Sardar Khan
    don't be worry there will be an operation against them for several years in Pakistan territory.
    this is a need to operate against Taliban and Haqqani groups. during 14 years they've never sat on peace table.
    so, there must be an operation against these two group in Eastern and Durand line. then there would be a priority of elimination for Daesh or (IS).
    In Response

    by: Irfan from: India
    February 05, 2016 10:14 PM
    Haqqanis' are Pakistan's principal military asset in Afghanistan, and if anyone thinks that Pakistan is about to give its hold on Afghanistan, he may be out of touch with reality. Since the US/NATO presence in this region is pathetically dependent on Pakistan, rather than anyone else, it has to give this sop, of letting it have the Haqqanis under its feathers.

    by: Sardar Khan
    January 30, 2016 12:55 PM
    What a joker is this man.His forces won't target the Haqqani Group but wants Pakistan to attack them.No,it is your mess so deal with it.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora