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.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.

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