Sunday, September 25, 2011

Who Are the Haqqanis?

Once hailed by President Ronald Reagan as "moral equivalents of America's founding fathers" and described by US Congressman Charlie Wilson as “goodness personified”, the Haqqanis of Afghanistan are now bedeviling the US military efforts in Afghanistan and straining US-Pakistan alliance as never before.



In addition to echoing and justifying the latest American allegations against Pakistani spy agency ISI of supporting the "Haqqani network", the New York Times has some additional interesting facts about the Haqqanis and the history of US ties with what the Times now describes as "the Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan".

Here are some of the key elements of the Times story:

1. The Haqqani clan is led by veteran Afghan fighter Jalaluddin Haqaani, who was welcomed to the White House by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, and his two sons: Sirajuddin and Badruddin.

2. The group has an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

3. The Haqqanis will outlast the United States troops in Afghanistan and command large swaths of territory there once the shooting stops.

4. One former American intelligence official, who worked with the Haqqani family in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, said he would not be surprised if the United States again found itself relying on the clan. “You always said about them, ‘best friend, worst enemy.’ ”

5. Over the past five years, with relatively few American troops operating in eastern Afghanistan, the Haqqanis have run what is in effect a protection racket for construction firms — meaning that American taxpayers are helping to finance the enemy network.

6. Maulavi Sardar Zadran, a former Haqqani commander, calls this extortion “the most important source of funding for the Haqqanis,” and points out that a multiyear road project linking Khost to Gardez in southeastern Afghanistan was rarely attacked by insurgent forces because a Haqqani commander was its paid protector.

7. The Haqqanis are Afghan members of the Zadran tribe, but it is in the town of Miram Shah in Pakistan’s tribal areas where they have set up a ministate with courts, tax offices and radical madrasa schools producing a ready supply of fighters. They secretly run a network of front companies throughout Pakistan selling cars and real estate, and have been tied to at least two factories churning out the ammonium nitrate used to build roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

8. American intelligence officials believe that a steady flow of money from wealthy people in the gulf states helps sustain the Haqqanis, and that they further line their pockets with extortion and smuggling operations throughout eastern Afghanistan, focused in the provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika. Chromite smuggling has been a particularly lucrative business, as has been hauling lumber from Afghanistan’s eastern forests into Pakistan.

9. For Americans who worked with them in the 1980s, the fact that the Haqqanis are now fighting their former American allies is no shock. The Russians were the foreign occupiers before; now the Americans are. “The Haqqanis have always been the warlords of that part of the country,” said Mr. Sageman, the former C.I.A. officer. “They always will be.”

10. The new urgency for a political settlement in Afghanistan has further limited Washington’s options for fighting the Haqqani network. During high-level discussions last year, Obama administration officials debated listing the group as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” which allows for some assets to be frozen and could dissuade donors from supporting the group. While some military commanders pushed for the designation, the administration ultimately decided that such a move might alienate the Haqqanis and drive them away from future negotiations.

As the Afghan war becomes less and less popular at home, and the Obama administration works toward significant troop withdrawals before the next presidential elections, I see a new high level desperation at the Pentagon in Washington and the CIA headquarters at Langley, particularly since the latest series of daring Taliban attacks in the heart of the Afghan Capital Kabul. This desperation is the reason why they are now scapegoating Pakistan to cover up their own failures and those of their Afghan allies. I just hope that this CYA exercise in America does not trigger a new wider war in the region that does not serve the best interests of the Americans or the Pakistanis. I think it's time for real diplomats to take over the crucial US-Pakistan relationship from the spies and warriors to guide it to a better outcome for all parties involved.

Here's a video clip of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on US role in creating militancy in Pakistan:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

FATA Face-off Fears

Facts and Myths About Afghanistan and Pakistan

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Appeasement in Swat
ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

King's Hypocrisy

India's Guantanamos abd Abu Ghraibs

Obama McCain Debate on Pakistan Policy

33 comments:

Haseeb said...

Riaz,
Your conclusion is right on target. These accusations are just political posturing to pressure Pakistan into taking larger burden of war for US. It is a shame that USA keep putting blame of its failures on ISI while ISI cannot protect itself from vicious attacks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Time magazine opinion piece by retired CIA officer Robert Baer:

The U.S. has for years demanded that Pakistan mount a sweeping military offensive in North Waziristan to destroy the Haqqanis, but even if they were so inclined, the fact is that the Pakistani military has only ever been able to control the main roads in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army is incapable of occupying and holding this territory, no matter how much money we offer or how dire the threats we make.

At the core of the problem stands a simple proposition: Pakistan doesn't trust us with Afghanistan — and from Islamabad's perspective, not without cause. We took a strategic decision to invade a country central to their national-security doctrine without seriously consulting them, preferring to think in terms of an Afghanistan of our dreams. Nor did we take into account their strategic interests and the proxies through which they have pursued them. The Soviet Union made the same mistake when it invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Having failed to prevail a decade later, we now have two choices, neither of them particularly attractive to Washington. We can attempt to destroy the Haqqani base in North Waziristan by invading Pakistan. But to do that effectively would require more troops than we currently have in Afghanistan. Doing so would obviously destroy whatever relations we still have with Pakistan, with profoundly dangerous consequences in Afghanistan and far beyond.

Alternatively, we could hash out a settlement with Pakistan, which would inevitably mean accepting the Haqqanis and easing out Karzai in any political settlement to the conflict. Such a deal would also potentially bring in Afghanistan's other neighbor with real strategic interests in the country — Iran. Iran can be unpredictable, but it's by no means certain it would accept true Pakistani-American collusion in Afghanistan. In the mid-'90s, Iran was all but at war with the Taliban, and if Iran isn't consulted on a settlement, it could play the spoiler.

Accepting Pakistan's postconflict agenda and backing off on the Haqqanis at Karzai's expense is too bitter a pill for Washington to swallow in an election year, so we'll muddle through for another year. But when the U.S. finally leaves, don't be surprised to see the Haqqanis in Kabul.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2094844,00.html#ixzz1Z4c8lXby

Anonymous said...

Right on target Mr. Haq. If we attack the Haqqanis we lose the support of Pashtoons in our country and will alienate them. If we don't they will take over Afghanistan when the American leave. This could be counter productive as well because then they would want to increase their influence in all Pashtoon majority areas like KP. America as well as Pakistan are in a catch 22 situation and there seems to be no exit in sight anywhere for both the countries.

Mayraj said...

This report from the Open Society Foundations examines how the recent, dramatic increase in night raids by international forces has affected Afghan civilians and fueled even deeper hostility towards such operations. Broader targeting strategies have put more civilians in harm’s way, as have mass, indiscriminate detentions of civilians, leaving Afghans feeling increasingly caught between the two sides of the conflict. Civilian casualties, detentions, cultural offense, property destruction, and lack of accountability continue to provoke popular and political blowback that risks seriously undermining relations with the Afghan government as well as the international community’s long-term security and political goals.
The Cost of Kill/Capture: Impact of the Night Raid Surge on Afghan Civilians recommends that international forces 1) cease targeting noncombatants and the indiscriminate detention of civilians; 2) employ alternative detention methods and law enforcement tactics, particularly whenever detaining non-combatants; and 3) implement reforms to improve transparency and accountability over night raids operations.

http://www.soros.org/initiatives/washington/articles_publications/publications/the-cost-of-kill-capture-impact-of-the-night-raid-surge-on-afghan-civilians-20110919

The Cost of Kill/Capture: Impact of the Night Raid Surge on Afghan Civilians

Haseeb said...

Riaz,
At the bottom of NYT's article this last paragraph summarizes cluelessness of this US administration,

["Is there any formula for Pakistan to agree to stop supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan and instead help broker and be satisfied with a political settlement?” asked Karl W. Eikenberry, who served as both America’s top military commander in Afghanistan and its ambassador to the country.
“We don’t know the answer to that question,” he said."].

USA is giving India all the nuclear perks while always saying negative things about Pakistani interests. Even in the business relationships India gets much better deals from US than Pakistan does. USA does all this while calling Pakistan its ally and then turns around and invades Pakistan in killing OBL without Pakistan's knowledge. With all this going on why do they believe that Pakistan will fully cooperate??? My guess is that US government is not clueless but is dishonest and really has no interest in Pakistani welfare. US past actions do support this opinion.

Anonymous said...

the qestions that need to asked is what do we do with Haqanis once US leaves Afghanistan? Do we encourage them to take over Afghanistan? Does this risk radicalizing the population of Afghanistan and fata-kp thus creating a never ending prob for Pakistan? Will Haqanis nature Al Qaeda again afghanistan and thus isolate Pakistan internationally? Should Pakistan then take on Haqanis alienating pashtoon in afghanistan and fata-kp? Which option is in Pakistan's best interest? Can Haqanis be ever tamed and reformed by Pakistan after US leaves the region?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Riaz haqqanis might look as a tool for furthering Pakistani interests in Afghanistan in the short run but in the long run they wouldnt be satisfied with power only in afghanistan. I think US has realised their mistake of breeding terrorists in this part of the world after 9/11 but will Pakistan also realise it?

Mayraj said...

Freedom Isn't Free at the State Department
Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch: "On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information.... Why me? It's not like the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the staff or the interest to monitor the hundreds of blogs, thousands of posts, and millions of tweets by Foreign Service personnel. The answer undoubtedly is my new book, 'We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.'"
Read the Article


"Van Buren is being harassed because he included a link from his blog to some cables describing the US dealing weapons to Moammar Qaddafi, including this account of John McCain and Lindsey Graham sucking up to the dictator."

http://www.emptywheel.net/2011/09/27/the-government-once-again-harrasses-others-to-hide-its-own-failures/
The Government Once Again Harrasses Others to Hide Its Own Failures

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post story indicating that Adm Mullen overstated the case when he called the Haqqanis a "veritable arm of the ISI":

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of providing support to the Haqqani network and allowing it to operate along the Afghanistan border with relative impunity, a charge that Pakistani officials reject.

But Mullen seemed to take the allegation an additional step, saying that the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” a phrase that implies ISI involvement and control.

That interpretation might be valid “if we were judging by Western standards,” said a senior U.S. military official who defended Mullen’s testimony. But the Pakistanis “use extremist groups — not only the Haqqanis — as proxies and hedges” to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

“This is not new,” the official said. “Can they control them like a military unit? We don’t think so. Do they encourage them? Yes. Do they provide some finance for them? Yes. Do they provide safe havens? Yes.”

That nuance escaped many in Congress and even some in the Obama administration, who voiced concern that the escalation in rhetoric had inflamed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

U.S. officials said that even evidence that has surfaced since Mullen’s testimony is open to differences in interpretation, including cellphones recovered from gunmen who were killed during the assault on the U.S. Embassy.

One official said the phones were used to make repeated calls to numbers associated with the Haqqani network, as well as presumed “ISI operatives.” But the official declined to explain the basis for that conclusion.

The senior Pentagon official treated the assertion with skepticism, saying the term “operatives” covers a wide range of supposed associates of the ISI. “Does it mean the same Haqqani numbers [also found in the phones], or is it actually uniformed officers” of Pakistan’s spy service?

U.S. officials said Mullen was unaware of the cellphones until after he testified.

Pakistani officials acknowledge that they have ongoing contact with the Haqqani network, a group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was one of the CIA-backed mujaheddin commanders who helped drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now in poor health, Haqqani has yielded day-to-day control of the network to his son, Sirajuddin.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/adm-mullens-words-on-pakistan-come-under-scrutiny/2011/09/27/gIQAHPJB3K_story_1.html

Shams said...

Mike Mullen is retiring and Afghanistan is still out of control. He has to save his skin and Pakistan presents itself as a good scapegoat due to its internal strife and lawlessness.

There is hardly any chance that the US will end aid, or attack Pakistan. The US does not attack armed countries, but only the unarmed ones like Iraq or Afghanistan. The US will not end aid since Pakistani military are acting as road runners for NATO supplies.

Pakistan is more likely to end from its own internal blowout. If that happens, I plan not to cry for that Evita.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the BBC on rising violence in Afghanistan this year:

There has been a 39% rise in violent incidents in Afghanistan so far this year compared with the same period last year, a UN report says.

In the past three months alone, there have been 7,000 violent incidents in the country, says the report by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The violence mainly involves gunfights and attacks using improvised bombs.

The report said most of the incidents were in the south and south-east, many of them near to Kandahar city.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says the document does not make comforting reading for Nato or the Afghan government.

He says the figures seem to suggest that Taliban attacks are falling in places where Nato is bolstering its numbers, but violence and insecurity is spreading to other parts of the country.

The report says the average monthly rate of violent incidents for the year is 2,108 and details figures for violent incidents in June (2,626), July (2,605) and August (2,306).

Mr Ban, who presented the quarterly update to the Security Council, blames most of the violence on insurgents.

"The increase can be attributed, in the context of overall intensified fighting, mainly to the use by anti-government elements of landmine-like pressure-plate improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks, in violation of international humanitarian law," says Mr Ban's report.

Over June, July and August, the number of civilians killed or injured in attacks rose by 5% compared with the same quarter last year.

The secretary general said at least 77% of those casualties were caused by the government's enemies.

His report also says there was an increase in the number of so-called complex attacks, where a group of suicide bombers and gunmen assault a high-profile building.

Kabul has seen several of those recently including those targeting the US embassy and the British Council.

The secretary general also notes what he calls a disturbing trend towards attacking targets such as hospitals or mosques.

For example, more than 30 civilians were killed in an attack on a hospital in the province of Logar in July.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15098939

Riaz Haq said...

US Senator Lindsey Graham threatened US military action Pakistan after Adm Mullen testimony alleging that Pakistan supports attacks by Haqqanis in Afghanistan. Here are some comments by Prof Juan Cole of Univ of Michigan on Graham's statement:

Here are some problems with Graham’s startling suggestion.

The US does not have a prayer of succeeding in Afghanistan without a Pakistani partner. Pakistan is a complex place, and its civilian politicians have a different agenda than its conventional army, which in turn has a different agenda from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Even within the ISI, there appear to be secret rogue cells. Some ISI officers appear to be hooked up with the Haqqani Network and with terrorist organizations such as the Lashkar-i Tayyiba. But Pakistan has lost thousands of troops fighting the more militant Afghan and Pakistani-Pashtun fundamentalist groups, and it is not a task the US could take on by itself.

Pakistan is a nuclear state. The United States has never fought a major military engagement with a nuclear-armed country, and it would be unwise to begin now. Would you really want to take the risk that they might feel cornered and find a way to deliver a warhead against an American target? In the Cold War, the nuclear standoff was called ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ (MAD). There is no reason to think that such considerations have lapsed or do not obtain when the US is facing a state with a smaller nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan is a close ally of China as well as trying to keep an alliance with the US. Graham’s sort of talk will have the effect of pushing Islamabad further into the arms of Beijing. China is unlikely to stand idly by as one of its major geopolitical assets in its contest with India is taken out by the United States. That is, US-Pakistan war would very likely become US-China war.

Pakistan has a regular army of 610,000 men, and can call up about 500,000 reserves if it needs to. Some 15,000 Taliban in Afghanistan have been pinning down tens of thousands of US troops, so what would happen if they faced over a million?

Pakistan’s population is at least 170 million. The US was defeated by an Iraqi insurgency in a small country of 25 million; imagine how a country 7 times more populous could tie it down.
---------
So now Iraq has been devastated and made supine and the US has to be on a war footing with Iran in order to “protect” Iraq from the latter. But Iraq’s Shiite government likes Iran and doesn’t see it as a threat, so Graham would be “protecting” Iraq against the will of Iraqis. Moreover, Graham doesn’t seem to think he needs to ask the Iraqi parliament whether it will permit any US troops to remain in Iraq at all.

Graham keeps trying to find a pretext for the next war, dismayed at the prospect of the US slipping into peace. He had tried to get up a war against Iran, but hasn’t had any takers.

Just as Graham wants to keep a division in Iraq because of Iran, he wants permanent bases in Afghanistan. And now he is looking for a fight with Pakistan, representing himself as “protecting” the US-installed Afghan government from Islamabad. But most Pashtuns would choose Pakistan over Graham any day of the week.

Pakistan’s alliance with the US is a marriage of convenience. Pakistan wants to see some groups, such as the Old Taliban and the Hikmatyar Hizb-i Islami, much weakened. But cells within the Inter-Serices Intelligence appear determined to retain the Haqqani Network, based in North Waziristan, as a means of projecting authority into Afghanistan. That emphasis makes Pakistan both an ally to the US in fighting some Taliban, but makes it only a partial ally, since it has its own reasons to use some of those Taliban to project its own authority and prepare for the peace after the US leaves. This difficult kind of alliance is nothing new in US history. Abruptly turning on such a complex ally and starting yet another war is madness.

Riaz Haq said...

There is some backpedaling in Washington on Mullen accusations against Pakistani after a strong reaction in Islamabad. Here's an excerpt from a Reuters' report:

Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, softened his rhetoric on Friday, telling a ceremony marking the end of his tenure that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan was "vexing and yet vital."

"I continue to believe that there is no solution in the region without Pakistan, and no stable future in the region without a partnership," said Mullen, who sometimes referred to himself as Pakistan's best friend in the U.S. military.

Obama acknowledged on Friday that Pakistan's relationship to the militant Haqqani network, believed responsible for the Embassy attack, is murky. But he urged Islamabad to tackle the problem anyway.

"The intelligence is not as clear as we might like in terms of what exactly that relationship is," Obama said in a radio interview, when asked about the Haqqani network.

"But my attitude is, whether there is active engagement with Haqqani on the part of the Pakistanis or rather just passively allowing them to operate with impunity in some of these border regions, they've got to take care of this problem," he said.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/30/us-pakistan-usa-idUSTRE78T57X20110930

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Reuters' blog post talking about Pakistan nuclear weapons as a deterrent not just against India but also the United States:

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have been conceived and developed as a deterrent against mighty neighbour India, more so now when its traditional rival has added economic heft to its military muscle. But Islamabad may also be holding onto its nuclear arsenal to deter an even more powerful challenge, which to its mind, comes from the United States, according to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who led President Barack Obama’s 2009 policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan and the United States are allies in the war against militancy, but ties have been so troubled in recent years that some in Pakistan believe that the risk of a conflict cannot be dismissed altogether and that the bomb may well be the country’s only hedge against an America that looks less a friend and more a hostile power.

Last year the Obama administration said there could be consequences if the next attack in the West were to be traced backed to Pakistan, probably the North Waziristan hub of al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.No nation can ignore a warning as chilling as that, and it is reasonable to expect the Pakistan military to do what it can to defend itself.

Riedel in a piece in The Wall Street Journal says Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani may well have concluded that the only way to hold off a possible American military action is the presence of nuclear weapons on its soil and hence the frenetic race to increase the size of the arsenal to the point that Pakistan is on track to become the fourth largest nuclear power after the United States, Russia and China.

Last month’s military action in Libya, the third Muslim nation attacked by the United States in the ten years since 9/11, can only heighten anxieties in Pakistan. Indeed Libya holds an opposite lesson for Pakistan’s security planners. This is a country that gave up a nuclear weapons programme - ironically assisted by Pakistan’s disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q.Khan – under a deal with the West following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Suppose for a moment that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had held on its nuclear weapons, would there have been air strikes then ?

Indeed none of the three countries attacked by the United States had nuclear weapons including, as it turned out, Iraq although the whole idea of invading it was to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction. You could further argue that this perhaps is the one reason why the United States hasn’t taken on North Korea because of its advanced nuclear programme with a bomb or two in the basement.

Kayani and the generals have therefore concluded the only reason the United States may hesitate to use force against Pakistan, should ties break down completely, will be because of the 100-odd weapons it has. It only makes sense to expand it further to make the Americans think twice before launching an action.

But such nuclear brinkmanship cannot come without consequences of its own, and one of them will be India reviewing its nuclear posture. A Pakistan battling a deadly Islamist militancy and beset with economic difficulties but on a fast track to expand its nuclear weapons programme is a nightmare scenario. Riedel says India has exercised restraint on its weapons program me, but seeing an acceleration in the Pakistani efforts, it may well step up production of its own.....


http://blogs.reuters.com/afghanistan/2011/04/09/pakistans-nuclear-weapons-a-deterrent-against-india-but-also-united-states/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telegraph story on US climb-down in the latest spat with Pakistan:

Last month Adml Mike Mullen, in his last few days before retiring as America's most senior military officer, said the Haqqani network, one of the most feared insurgent groups in Afghanistan, was a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency.

He accused Pakistan of exporting violence and also blamed the ISI for directing a 19hr attack on the US embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul on September 13, as he stepped up demands that Pakistan act against Haqqani bases in North Waziristan.

His statement was the climax of a string of apparently carefully choreographed allegations by senior Administration officials – including the US ambassador to Islamabad – that Pakistan's intelligence service was closely connected to the Haqqanis.

However, with relations between the two countries close to breaking point, the US appeared to row back with a series of statements emphasising the importance of the alliance.

On Friday, President Barack Obama made a point of not endorsing Adml Mullen's accusations.

He admitted that the intelligence was not clear on the exact nature of the relationship between the ISI and the Haqqanis.

The reversal has been greeted with glee in Islamabad.

Mr Gilani, who was speaking at Bili Wala in Punjab, said an all-party conference (APC) held last week had been instrumental in forcing the US to back down.

"It is due to APC as well as the unity of Pakistan's political leaders that the US has a sent a message that they need Pakistan and that they cannot win the war without Pakistan," he said. "They have also distanced themselves from the statement of Mullen."

The climb-down also suggests the US knew it had few options to increase pressure, without risking a total breakdown in relations and the deployment of American forces to Pakistan.

"US options are limited as we don't want a larger war in south Asia," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who advised the White House on Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009 and a fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8804227/Pakistan-claims-victory-over-US-Haqqani-spat.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from NPR's Talk of the Nation aired today:

..."The Haqqanis have had sanctuary in Pakistan for the last 30 years, and they are extremely close to the military, the ISI. But I think it's a bit far-fetched to say that ... every attack that the Haqqanis have launched inside of Afghanistan has been directed by the Pakistanis," said Rashid.

"I think the Haqqanis have a lot of autonomy with what they do. They've been the enemy of the United States for the last 10 years, they've been fighting there alongside the Taliban with al-Qaida as well, they have close links to al-Qaida, something that Pakistan has also been fighting against. So it's a mixed bag."

"Earlier there were charges that the attacks on the Indian embassy in 2008 and 2009 were directed by the ISI, but after that, there hasn't been that kind of charge. ... [But] the Americans have been pushing the Pakistanis to go into North Waziristan, which is the tribal area where the Haqqanis are based... the Pakistanis have been resisting ... for nearly three years now. It's very clear, I think, to the American military that the Pakistanis are not going to go into North Waziristan and not going to deal with the Haqqanis. And I think that's what has prompted Adm. Mullen's comments."

Jalaluddin Haqqani heads up the network. Once, "he was a very close friend of American congressmen and senators, [and] he was a guest of President Reagan at the White House," said Rashid. He joined the Taliban "quite late, in 1996, about three years after their movement began. ... His big test came in 2001, after 9/11."

Then, Rashid met Haqqani when the Americans and Pakistanis brought Haqqani to Islamabad to try to convince him to the leave the Taliban and join the Americans in bombing Afghanistan. "Everyone tried very hard to swing him, but he would not leave the Taliban, and he went back determined to oppose the American attack in Afghanistan."

His two sons now command the Haqqani network. One, Siraj, is fluent in Arabic and has "very good contacts with some of the Gulf Arab and Saudi sheiks. A lot of money has come to them from the Middle East over the years... and he's also very close to al-Qaida, and was a close friend of Osama bin Laden."

Siddiqa said there are two views of the ISI's connection with the Haqqani network. The military perspective says "yes, it has contacts, but they're nothing more than just contacts, which any agency would have." On the ground, though, she said people are suspicious of the military's claims, and think the contacts run deeper. "Probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle."

Ambassador Lodhi says Pakistanis see American policies as confused. "Pakistan is being asked to help reach out to the Taliban because President Obama has announced ... that there is no military solution to the conflict if Afghanistan, and peace in Afghanistan can only come through a political settlement."

"So here, on the one hand," she continues, "Pakistan is being asked to reach out to the Taliban, and on the other hand Pakistan is also being asked to go after them." Thus, Pakistanis see the U.S. as following two parallel policies. "It is continuing to step up kinetic activity, while wanting a peaceful settlement. Whereas Pakistan wants to accelerate the peace process ... It doesn't feel that this fight and talk strategy is going to work in Afghanistan."


http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/10/03/141016637/who-are-the-haqqanis

Riaz Haq said...

Adm Mullen knew and said nothing about US contacts with Haqqanis when he accused Pakistan prior to retiring, according to ABC:

Eleven days ago, the United States' top military official seemed to sum up Washington's current relationship with Pakistan when he accused the country's premiere intelligence service of supporting insurgents who attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

But what Admiral Mike Mullen did not say is that the U.S. had secretly met with a member of that same insurgent group -- known as the Haqqani network -- as part of efforts to find a political end to the war in Afghanistan, and that the institution that helped set up the meeting was the same intelligence agency he had condemned: the Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence, or I.S.I.

The meeting, according to two current U.S. officials and a former U.S. official, was held in the months before the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO's military headquarters, which U.S. officials have blamed on the Haqqani network. In his congressional testimony Sept. 22, Mullen called the Haqqanis a "veritable arm" of the I.S.I., but failed to mention that the I.S.I. facilitated the meeting between the U.S. and Ibrahim Haqqani, a son of founder Jalaluddin Haqqani and a major player in the group, according to a senior U.S. official.

The meeting suggests there is much more to the recent spat between Islamabad and Washington while the violence in Afghanistan has increased as U.S. troops have begun to withdraw. At stake, U.S. officials said, is how they will try to reduce the violence in Afghanistan and to what extent Pakistan will be allowed a say.

From Pakistan's point of view, military and intelligence officials have long argued that their connections with the Haqqani network -- going back decades in the Pakistani tribal areas and in Afghanistan -- can facilitate the only way to end the war: through political negotiation. But for U.S. officials, even as the debate in Washington continues over the best way to wind down the war, there was a high-level decision after the embassy attack to name and shame the I.S.I. for supporting the Haqqanis, hoping it would work where no previous pressure or incentives placed on Pakistan had worked, according to a senior Western official.
----------
The fact that the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence service set up the meeting with Haqqani and discussed how to stop a Haqqani attack suggests a much more nuanced -- and very often, confounding -- relationship with Pakistan's intelligence service than Adm. Mullen and other military officials have publicly admitted in the last two weeks.

The Pakistanis, in turn, have tried to portray themselves as the victims of a smear campaign headed by Mullen. As Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in the Washington Post Friday, "While we are accused of harboring extremism, the United States is engaged in outreach and negotiations with the very same groups."


http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/us-pakistan-struggle-haqqani-insurgents/story?id=14656079&page=2

Anonymous said...

A story in NY Times by Eric Schmitt on the contradictory nature of U.S. policies toward Afghan insurgent groups. Schmitt reports that U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon met secretly with Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to pressure Pakistan to do more to tamp down the Haqqani Network just a month before U.S. officials reportedly met with Haqqani leaders to discuss their possible integration into the Afghan government.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/world/asia/united-states-met-secretly-with-pakistan-and-haqqani-network.html?_r=2&ref=world

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a CBS interview with Pak UN ambassador Haroon:

U.S.-Pakistan relations are at an all-time low. Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussein Haroon, speaking to CBS News about the allegations of Pakistani-ISI links to insurgents, said that Pakistan wants to end terrorism in his country and that Washington and Afghanistan are blaming Pakistan, making it the scapegoat for a conflict which victimizes Pakistan more than it hurts the U.S. or Afghanistan.

"For the past few months it's been the U.S. who keeps trying to put pressure by saying Pakistan this or Pakistan that," Haroon said. "That policy needs reappraisal. You need to talk as allies, don't talk down to us. This is not going to succeed. Politics should be transactional, not coercive. We want success. We don't want this mess on our doorstep for the next 100 years. It's not of our making, not of our choosing, not of our doing. We've paid the highest price for this war."

As the U.S. assesses the projected dates for the drawdown of U.S. troops and the recent spike in some types of violent incidents, a CBS News poll found that, although most Americans support the military, the American public thinks the United States should not be fighting in Afghanistan and the war has not been worth it.

Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador, who has been in his country's foreign service all his adult life, said bluntly that the U.S. had ignored the lessons of history in deciding to, and how to, invade Afghanistan.

"The Soviets lost Afghanistan by not learning the lessons of history... History is again repeating itself because the Americans have repeated the mistakes made by the Soviets and everyone else."

Haroon said U.S. leaders "overestimated their own capabilities and underestimated those of the Afghan guerillas."

The ambassador accuses the U.S. of underestimating the Taliban.

"I believe this needs to be reassessed because misappreciation of the enemy has always led to military setbacks."

Adding to his list of alleged U.S. failures, Haroon said American military commanders failed to assess the physical terrain on which they were planning to fight.

All the errors, he said, "contributed to the impasse which has resulted in Afghanistan."

As U.S.-Pakistan relations sour and anti-U.S. troop sentiment in Pakistan rises, Haroon offered some advice: "You cannot solve Afghanistan without Pakistan and Pakistan cannot be free of its own troubles without Afghanistan first being free of all its troubles. That is the conundrum."

"Whenever anyone has set a date for withdrawal in Afghanistan, before the army has effectively left their borders, their imposed government falls and runs with them towards the border. You have undermined yourselves completely... by setting an exit date."
-------
"We're getting treated like we're a pariah," complained Haroon. "Very, very sad shape, and it is not what we expect of a great country like America."

"Do you know why in New York, why nothing happened (this year) on September 11? You gave us a list of three people, 'help us find them,' you said. We went out of our way and did find them. The White House said fantastic, we have the people that could have harmed us and, by God's grace, nothing happened. Three key people were handed over on the 5th of September. Were people told in America that the reason that New York is safe is because Pakistan helped us capture these people?"


http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20116573-503543.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Christine Fair opinion piece in Time magazine:

Early in the war, Pakistan was praised for its indispensable assistance — likely because the cooperation centered on a common foe: al-Qaeda. But as Pakistan watched the U.S. grow closer to India — not just passing the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal but also encouraging India's presence in Afghanistan — it concluded that its interests and those of the U.S. were on a collision course.

In part because of that realization, Pakistan supported the Taliban's newly invigorated insurgency in Afghanistan. The Americans, however, resisted putting pressure on Pakistan for fear of compromising cooperation against al-Qaeda. Thus an ironic equilibrium was established: Pakistan received increasing financial "rewards" for its support of the global war on terrorism while it subsidized the very groups killing thousands of Americans and allies in Afghanistan.

With the American endgame in Afghanistan looming, U.S. officials can no longer ignore this duplicity. Pakistan's influence over the Afghan Taliban and other allies like the Haqqani network is a key obstacle to Afghans' being able to secure their country themselves. What is becoming increasingly clear is that a strategic relationship is not possible when strategic interests diverge so starkly. Observers on both sides are quietly asking whether the other is a problematic partner, an outright foe or both.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2096478_2096477_2096476,00.html #ixzz1a9K6tjzy

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting editorial in The Sunday Leader of Sri Lanka arguing that "India Can’t Replace Pakistan In Afghanistan":

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai’s visit to New Delhi last week may have conveyed the impression that it was a backlash against Islamabad with whom he had heated exchanges, accusing it of carrying out the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan Peace Council. Rabbani was a key figure in the Karzai regime and his assassination resulted in Karzai immediately flying back home from New York.
--------------
It is quite unlikely that despite the strategic partnership agreements signed between the two countries during the Karzai visit which included training of Afghan security personnel by Indian forces, India would risk the wrath of the fanatical fundamentalist Taliban groups or Pakistan’s intelligence forces; Afghanistan being considered by Pakistan as its sphere of influence vis-à-vis India. It is no secret that Pakistan’s intelligence forces set up the Taliban in Afghanistan to create a‘strategic depth’ for their country against India.
India as a regional and emerging global power would want to establish its presence in the neighbourhood. It would be extremely naïve for it to take on the role – which the Soviet Union, a one time super power that failed in the task – with now the only superpower, America, trying to disengage itself.

India despite having the fourth largest army in the world is yet unable to ward off terrorist attacks which they allege are emanating from Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan have been fertile grounds for nurturing terrorism in the past two decades. And any provocation provided to fanatical Islamist groups by ‘Hindu India’ would be inviting retaliation.
---------------
U.S. pull out and its implications.

Even though the call for American troops to pull out of Afghanistan is not only supported in Afghanistan and Pakistan but among sections in most South Asian countries; if the Americans do pull out of Afghanistan leaving a vacuum in power, would history be repeated as after the Soviet pull out? The Obama plan is to pull out all troops by 2014.
What happens then? Afghanistan is the cockpit of the world with very powerful nations around it: China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and some of the former Soviet Republics. Should they leave Afghanistan as one of the least developed and impoverished countries to itself? That is quite unlikely because in recent times its strategic importance has increased. Through it has to pass oil and gas pipelines which global and regional powers are interested in.
It could also provide a gateway to China through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean and now it has been found to be a country extremely rich in mineral resources.

Poor Afghans, will they be able to ever have their own country and govern themselves? One fact however they have proved to the world: Afghanistan has remained unconquered throughout history.


http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/10/09/india-can%E2%80%99t-replace-pakistan-in-afghanistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent report in The News about India's war preps against Pakistan:

First, in the context of current events, is Afghan President Karzai’s recent visit to New Delhi and the signing of a strategic accord with India at the heels of ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination. While one side of the equation that has been brought into the spotlight shows that the accord will pave the way for India to train the Afghan armed forces and police, the other side that remains veiled could contain clauses that may affect Pakistan’s internal and external security. According to policymakers here in Islamabad, the accord requires careful thought at all levels. The critical point to remember is that India has no role whatsoever in Afghanistan yet Indian interference and policies are at the root of many of the problems that Pakistan is facing today. “This accord is a short-sighted narrow-minded move that would harm Afghanistan, both in the short and long term,” warned a regional expert while evaluating the accord and its impact on the region.

Second, the Indian army is holding a massive two-month long winter exercise at the Pakistan border, bringing a potent strike corps, the Bhopal based 21 Corps, in the Rajasthan desert. The exercise involves battle tanks and artillery guns besides Indian Air Force assets. Intriguingly, ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ Corps will be aiming to build its capacities for “breaching the hostile army’s defences and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.” The exercise is the third of its kind this year. The summer war game Vijayee Bhava, in the Rajasthan desert, involved the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, and the Pine Prahar exercise in the plains of Punjab was staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, both held in May this year. The question is: why is India holding three massive war games in a year at the Pakistan border that aim at capturing important strategic assets deep inside the enemy territory?

Third, a key development across the border has been the deployment of Su-30 fighter aircraft near the Pakistan border. The significance of the fact that the aircraft is the most sophisticated in the region and that it has been deployed along the Pakistan border at this crucial juncture is not lost on policymakers in Islamabad.

Two other related but under-reported events have been the extension of the runway at Kargil by India and its decision to acquire six more C-130J aircraft, the latest version of the intractable workhorse, reinforcing fears in Islamabad that New Delhi is preparing for a war that may engulf the whole region.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=9422&Cat=13

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting claims made in Financial Times about secret Zardari-Obama exchange as reported by The News:

..According to an analyst this obviously meant that President Zardari was considering firing General Kayani. The offer was sent through a prominent American citizen of Pakistani origin, investment banker and businessman Mansoor Ijaz. In an article in FT which was almost a confession, Mansoor Ijaz admitted that he received the message from a senior Pakistani diplomat and sent it to Admiral Mullen and claimed that his channel was used to “bypass the Pakistan Army and intelligence channels.”
-----------
“Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, and his troops were demoralised by the embarrassing ease with which US special forces had violated Pakistani sovereignty. Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s feared spy service, was charged by virtually the entire international community with complicity in hiding bin Laden for almost six years. Both camps were looking for a scapegoat; Mr Zardari was their most convenient target.

“The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.

“In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days, a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: “The new national security team will eliminate ‘Section’ S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.”

“The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A meeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.

“On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had “credible intelligence” that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done “with ISI support.” Essentially, he was indicting Pakistan’s intelligence services for carrying out a covert war against the US - perhaps in retaliation for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, or perhaps out of strategic national interest to put Taliban forces back in power in Afghanistan so that Pakistan would once again have the “strategic depth” its paranoid security policies against India always envisioned.

“Questions about the ISI’s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed “S-Wing”, which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists who believe only they can protect Pakistan’s territorial integrity.

“The time has come for the US State Department to declare S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of “foreign governmental organisations”. Plans by the Obama administration to blacklist the Haqqani network are toothless and will have no material impact on the group’s military support and intelligence logistics; it is S-Wing that allegedly provides all of this in the first place. It no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out. S-Wing must be stopped...........


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=9493&Cat=13

Riaz Haq said...

Karzai says Afghans will support Pakistan if US attacks, reports the Wall Street Journal:

KABUL—America's latest attempts to strengthen its relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai received an unexpected jolt over the weekend, as the Afghan leader said he would back Pakistan if it went to war with the U.S.

"God forbid, if any war took place between Pakistan and the United States, we will stand by Pakistan," Mr. Karzai said an interview broadcast Saturday on Pakistan's Geo television network. "If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needed Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."

The prospects for a U.S. war with Pakistan are remote, and Mr. Karzai's comments were viewed by some Afghan and Western officials in Kabul as a poorly executed effort to blunt his recent angry comments about Pakistan's support for Afghan insurgent groups.

"This is not about war with each other," said Gavin Sundwall, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. "This is about a joint approach to a threat to all three of our countries."

On Sunday, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Mr. Karzai's deputy national security adviser, said the president's comments had been taken out of context and didn't reflect a change in Afghan policy in the region.

"I think the president's remarks have been blown up without looking at the real context of the message he was trying to convey," he said. "It is a 50 minute-long interview. Of course one or two sentences can't speak for a 50 minute-long interview on a specific subject."

Meanwhile, Mr. Karzai's comments came as a surprise to some Western officials in Kabul, who were heartened by the success of last week's visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In the past, Mr. Karzai has alienated his Western allies with comments suggesting that he might side with the Taliban, or that America could come to be seen as an occupier if its forces didn't stop killing Afghan civilians.

Mr. Karzai's latest remarks struck a nerve with some Afghan and Western officials in Kabul who were reminded of the president's penchant for criticizing the U.S.-led coalition that supports and funds his government.

"It was totally careless, unnecessary and, yes, irresponsible," said one Afghan official. "He hasn't pleased anyone except, maybe, a few Pakistani generals."

American officials said, however, that Mr. Karzai's remarks wouldn't overshadow Mrs. Clinton's visit. Mr. Karzai and Mrs. Clinton were united during her trip in demanding that Pakistan stop supporting the Taliban and other Afghan insurgent groups.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have vacillated over the past year between spells of political chill and attempts at a rapprochement.

Mr. Karzai and the U.S. have sought to pressure Pakistan in recent weeks to clamp down on the Haqqani insurgent network suspected of staging a series of deadly attacks on American and Afghan targets.

Afghan officials also accused Pakistan's spy agency of involvement in last month's assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president who had been leading the country's peace entreaties to the Taliban. Pakistan denied these accusations.

Earlier this month, Mr. Karzai flew to New Delhi to sign a strategic agreement with Pakistan's archenemy India. The move angered Pakistani officials, who viewed it as political provocation...


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203911804576648971550801968.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are parts of an Op Ed by Robert Dreyfuss published in The Nation:

The closing may yet be reversed, but it’s a sign of Pakistan’s ability to undermine or even shut down the US war effort. (It’s not really possible to supply US forces by using the so-called northern route through Russia and the ’Stans, not is it possible to airlift supplies such as fuel, heavy machinery, and construction equipment in sufficient quantities.) As always, Pakistan has the United States over a barrel.

Worse, the Pakistan government is threatening to boycott the December 5 international conference on Afghanistan, at which 1,000 delegates from fifty countries are scheduled to convene in Germany to discuss plans to wind down the war. As everyone who’s paying attention knows, winding down the war—removing 30,000 American troops in 2012 and taking out the rest by 2014—means getting Pakistan and its cat’s-paw, the Taliban, to the bargaining table. If Pakistan doesn’t play, it’s game over.

The most intelligent comment on the crisis comes from Vali Nasr, a regional expert who served as a consultant to the late Af-Pak coordinator Richard Holbrooke. Nasr told the New York Times that there is not one but two policies toward Afghanistan, the first one being the White House and State Department policy of seeking a political accord, and the second being the Department of Defense and the military command policy of killing the enemy. “It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog. U.S. commanders on the ground are deciding U.S.-Pakistan policy.” That may exaggerate the point slightly, since the White House is in charge, but it does point to the fact that if a war can’t be won militarily, it’s probably best not to let the military try to win it.

Crabby comments from US politicians, including Senators John Kyl and Dick Durbin, badly miss the point. Rather than “get tough” with Pakistan, the United States has to recognize that when and if the war ends Pakistan will be the dominant player in Afghanistan. So the United States needs Pakistan’s help. At the same time, the United States has to led a diplomatic surge to get Russia, India and Iran to rein in their warlike allies among the anti-Karzai Northern Alliance, so that some sort of deal can be struck to stabilize Afghanistan after the United States leaves. Otherwise, the country will be plunged into a full-scale civil war such as the one that raged in the early 1990s after the USSR withdrew and before the Taliban took over to end the bloodshed.


http://www.thenation.com/blog/164811/dealing-pakistan-no-alternative

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of Brian Cloughly's piece in Counterpunch on the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers:

The killing of 24 Pakistan army soldiers in Mohmand Tribal Agency on November 26 by US air strikes is unforgivable. I was in Mohmand three weeks ago, visiting 77 Brigade, whose officers and soldiers were slaughtered by US aircraft, and I know exactly where Pakistan’s border posts are located. And so do American forces, because they have been informed of the precise coordinates of all them.

There can be no refutation of the statement to me that “No plans of any patrols or operations being conducted [at the time of the Mohmand airstrikes] were shared [with Pakistan, by US forces].” And nobody can deny that the posts are well inside Pakistan.

Those killed in the US attack on Pakistan included Captain Usman, whose six-month-old daughter will never see him again, and Major Mujahid who was to be married shortly. Well done, you gallant warriors of the skies. May you never sleep contented.

Here is a description of what went on, from a retired army officer who visited the casualties in the Military Hospital in Peshawar:

There were 14 wounded in the surgical ward suffering a variety of wounds . . . The crux of the account of the soldiers and officers was that at about 11pm . . . a light aircraft came from across the border, flew over the post and fired flares and returned. About half an hour later armed helicopters and [other] aircraft came. They again fired flares and began firing at the men. They remained in the area for about 5-6 hours. During this time, the helicopters [were] firing at individual personnel at will . . . [and fire was returned by their single 12.7 machine gun]. Every one of the men on the post was killed or wounded. They seemed to be in no hurry and going after each individual separately. Having finished the entire post, they peaceably went back without any casualty on their part.
-----------
The “sacrifices that America is making” in Afghanistan, in what is ludicrously called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’, are entirely self-inflicted. But Pakistan’s sacrifices are inflicted by America, which is losing yet another war and again blames another country for its failure. Just like it did in the disasters in Vietnam and Somalia and Iraq.

In the past fifty years, what nation has trusted America and come out of the deal with dignity, honor and prosperity? Pakistan is far from a perfect country. Its government is corrupt and appallingly inefficient. But it could do without Washington’s imperial insolence. At the moment Islamabad is desperate to find some means of registering the country’s contempt and loathing for the United States, and there are very few options available to it. But it could reflect on what Washington’s retaliation would have been if Pakistani aircraft had gone on a yippee shoot and killed 24 American soldiers inside Afghanistan.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/02/killing-pakistani-soldiers/

Riaz Haq said...

British officials believe al Qaida almost wiped out in Pakistan, reports The Guardian:

Senior British officials believe that a "last push" in 2012 is likely to definitively destroy al-Qaida's remaining senior leadership in Pakistan, opening a new phase in the battle against Islamist terrorism.

So many senior members of the organisation have been killed in an intense campaign of air strikes involving missiles launched from unmanned drones that "only a handful of the key players" remain alive, one official said.

However, well-informed sources outside government and close to Islamist groups in north Africa said at least two relatively senior al-Qaida figures have already made their way to Libya, with others intercepted en route, raising fears that north Africa could become a new "theatre of jihad" in coming months or years.

"A group of very experienced figures from north Africa left camps in Afghanistan's [north-eastern] Kunar province where they have been based for several years and travelled back across the Middle East," one source said. "Some got stopped but a few got through."

It is unclear whether the moves from west Asia to north Africa are prompted by a desire for greater security – which seems unlikely as Nato forces begin to withdraw from Afghanistan – or part of a strategic attempt to exploit the aftermath of the Arab spring. They may even be trying to shift the centre of gravity of al-Qaida's effort back to the homelands of the vast majority of its members.
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Repeated efforts to push the Pakistani authorities to take military action against the Haqqanis have been rebuffed. Western and international officials said senior Pakistani military officers insisted they needed the Haqqani network, which has not attacked Pakistani targets though it has repeatedly struck Nato and other western targets in Afghanistan, to keep militant groups that make up the Pakistani Taliban network "under control". These latter have repeatedly struck civilian and military targets within Pakistan.

Western officials dismissed the argument as far-fetched and unrealistic. One international official said, however, that there was evidence the Haqqani family had been acting as intermediaries between the Pakistani secret services and militant groups and described the Pakistani position as "understandable".

"To move against the Haqqanis is a no-win option for the Pakistani military. If they suffer heavy casualties and fail to eliminate the group, they lose their authority and a key interlocutor. If they succeed, they lose a key asset," the official said.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/25/al-qaida-leadership-pakistan-africa?INTCMP=SRCH

Riaz Haq said...

A recent book "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan" by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrashekharan argues that it's failures primarily in Washington rather than Islamabad and Kabul that have hurt US goals in Afghanistan.

Chandrashekaran writes on page 329 of his book: "The reason was not be found in Kabul or Islamabad. It was in Washington: America's bureaucracy had become America's worst enemy."

Here's another excerpt as published in Washington Post:

To Holbrooke, a towering man with an irrepressible personality, brokering a deal with the Taliban was the only viable strategy to end the war.

He was convinced that the military’s goal of defeating the Taliban would be too costly and time-consuming, and the chances of success were almost nil, given the safe havens in Pakistan, the corruption of Karzai’s government and the sorry state of the Afghan army.

Obama told his aides that he was interested in a peace deal, and less than two months after he took office, the president said publicly that he was open to seeking reconciliation with the Taliban, comparing such an effort to a U.S. initiative to work with former Sunni militants in Iraq who were willing to break with al-Qaeda.

His comments alarmed top military and intelligence officials. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, chief of U.S. Central Command, thought it was too soon even to talk about talking. They wanted to commit more troops first and then talk, but only to Taliban leaders who agreed to surrender. CIA officials argued that the United States could not negotiate with the Taliban until its leadership denounced al-Qaeda.

There was no clear path for Holbrooke to achieve peace talks. The Taliban had no office, mailing address, or formal structure. It was not clear that its leader, the reclusive Mullah Mohammed Omar, wanted to talk — in 2009, the Taliban appeared to be winning — or whether he and his fellow mullahs would accept the United States’ conditions for negotiations: that they renounce violence, break with al-Qaeda and embrace the Afghan constitution.

Even if they did, would the terms be acceptable to the Karzai government? What about Pakistan and other neighboring powers? If Holbrooke was going to have any chance of success, he needed the backing of others in the administration, starting with the president.

But the White House never issued a clear policy on reconciliation during the administration’s first two years. Instead of finding common purpose with Holbrooke, White House officials were consumed with fighting him. Jones and Lute hated the thought of Holbrooke basking in the spotlight as he did after peace in the Balkans. They wanted him out of the way, and then they would chart a path to peace.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/little-america-infighting-on-obama-team-squandered-chance-for-peace-in-afghanistan/2012/06/24/gJQAbQMB0V_story.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=kvNNc1BIBPgC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=rajiv+chandrasekaran+afghanistan+problems+in+islamabad&source=bl&ots=fGFOYBlUvn&sig=IuzeY49I1vrzTaxE4yOpAqg7jBg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZND0T_SUG6Ws2wWmt_3HBg&ved=0CFIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=islamabad&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg Op Ed titled "No More Bullying Pakistan" written by former State Dept official Vali Nasr:

It took eight months, but the U.S. has finally apologized for killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in a firefight on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

With that, the U.S. military is again able to use routes through Pakistan to supply its forces in Afghanistan without paying exorbitant fees. Plus the threat that Pakistan will bar U.S. drone strikes is for now moot.
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However, the main implication of the apology, a triumph of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over both the White House and the Pentagon, is that it ends the experiment of the U.S. trying to bully Pakistan into submission.

The clash in November between U.S. and Pakistani forces was a mess, with miscommunication on both sides but fatalities on only one. Pakistan, still seething over the U.S. breach of its sovereignty in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, closed U.S. military supply routes to Afghanistan when the U.S. initially refused to apologize. The U.S., in turn, froze $700 million in military assistance and shut down all engagement on economic and development issues. In a further deterioration of ties, the Pakistani Parliament voted to ban all U.S. drone attacks from or on Pakistani territory.
No Sympathy

The Pakistanis held firm in their insistence on an apology. Officials at the Pentagon thought the case didn’t merit one. Many had no sympathy for the Pakistanis, whom they regarded as double-dealers for stoking the insurgency in Afghanistan and providing haven to the notorious extremists of the Haqqani Network. The White House feared that an apology would invite Republican criticism. Throughout the crisis, Clinton and her senior staff argued that the U.S. should apologize. She supported re-engaging with Pakistan to protect a critical relationship while also holding Pakistan accountable for fighting the Taliban and other extremists, a point she has raised in each of her conversations with Pakistani leaders.

Clinton’s recommendations were contrary to the policy the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency put in place in early 2011. Relations had soured when the Pakistanis held CIA operative Raymond Davis after he shot two Pakistanis. Frustrated with Pakistan’s foot-dragging on counterterrorism, the two agencies successfully lobbied for a strategy to reduce high-level contacts with Pakistan, shame Pakistan in the news media, and threaten more military and intelligence operations on Pakistani soil like the bin Laden assassination. It was a policy of direct confrontation on all fronts, aimed at bending Pakistan’s will.

It failed. Pakistan stood its ground. Far from changing course, Pakistan reduced cooperation with the U.S. and began to apply its own pressure by threatening to end the drone program, one of the Obama administration’s proudest achievements.
----------
The conclusion: Open conflict with Pakistan was not an option. It was time to roll back the pressure.

The apology is just a first step in repairing ties deeply bruised by the past year’s confrontations. The U.S. should adopt a long-term strategy that would balance U.S. security requirements with Pakistan’s development needs. Managing relations with Pakistan requires a deft policy -- neither the blind coddling of the George W. Bush era nor the blunt pressure of the past year, but a careful balance between pressure and positive engagement. This was Clinton’s strategy from 2009 to 2011, when U.S. security demands were paired with a strategic dialogue that Pakistan coveted. That is still the best strategy for dealing with this prickly ally.


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-05/u-s-apology-ends-doomed-policy-of-bullying-pakistan-vali-nasr.html

Anonymous said...

Watch this video of a Taliban rep and Barnett Rubin on Charlie Rose Show before 911:

http://youtu.be/eBAEk2dBm4E

Riaz Haq said...

Here's WSJ on Haqqanis trying to make peace among TTP factions:

As the Taliban's cease-fire ended on Thursday, the internecine bloodshed has created a new hurdle in the talks process.

"Our interlocutors are badly split. Unless they can resolve this quickly, things aren't looking very bright," Rustam Shah Mohmand, one of the government representatives at the negotiations, told The Wall Street Journal. "The government is also dragging its feet."

"It appears that we're losing momentum. I fear that we're heading toward a dead end."

People with knowledge of the Pakistan army say the institution has concerns about the way the talks are dragging on.

Meanwhile, the U.S., which has targeted militants in the tribal area, has ceased drone strikes against the Pakistani Taliban since the negotiations policy was set, under an understanding between Islamabad and Washington, officials say.

No talks have been held between officials and the Pakistani Taliban for over a week. The group has made demands—such as the designation of a safe area for the militants where security forces won't attack them and the freeing of hundreds of their prisoners—that the government will find politically hard to meet, while offering little in return.

The talks have decreased but not stopped attacks. A market was bombed on the outskirts of Islamabad on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people. The Pakistani Taliban denounced the bombing, saying it was wrong to target civilians. It is unclear whether one of its own factions carried out the attack.

Militants and officials said the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent group also based in Pakistan's tribal areas, is trying to patch up differences between the warring Taliban factions, which come from the Mehsud tribe.

The Haqqani group has repeatedly intervened in internal Taliban disputes, fearing that such fighting will impede its ability to use the tribal areas as a sanctuary, analysts said.

"The Taliban shura [leadership] will now find it more difficult to come to a unanimous view," said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a veteran journalist who was formally part of the government negotiating team. "They will not give up on the option of talks at this stage. Both the Taliban and the government want to continue talks."

The infighting involves a faction led by Khan Said, known as Sajna, and a rival group led by a commander called Shehryar over leadership of the Taliban's powerful Mehsud wing. The conflict dates back to the enmity between two Mehsud commanders who were killed by U.S. drone strikes last year. Their deaths led to a militant outside the tribe, Mullah Fazlullah, taking control of the Taliban for the first time.


on.wsj.com/OQjGV6

Riaz Haq said...

Last week, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman said something extraordinary — something that could signal a sea change in the country’s security policy. Which makes it all the more perplexing that the international media has given scant coverage to what the spokesman had to say.

“There is no discrimination among different Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan groups or the Haqqani network,” Gen. Asim Bajwa told journalists at military headquarters in a briefing about Pakistan’s military offensive in North Waziristan. “[The] Army will crush them all.”

If this is in fact true, then it is great news.

The Haqqani network, formally designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, is a formidable Taliban-linked entity. It regularly launches high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including assaults on the U.S. embassy. Some believe the Haqqani network introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan. It also has extensive links to al-Qaeda; a West Point study has concluded that it operates with al-Qaeda “as an interdependent system.”

Pakistan’s security establishment has long refused to act against the Haqqani network. It has regarded the group — as it does other militant organizations that don’t launch attacks in Pakistan — as a strategic asset, in that it helps limit the activities of archenemy India in Afghanistan (Haqqani fighters have frequently targeted Indians in Afghanistan). In 2011, Mike Mullen, the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and hence the top U.S. military official — famously stated that the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the ISI.

By declaring war on the Haqqani network, Pakistan could seriously degrade one of the most destabilizing forces in Afghanistan. It could also be a tremendous boost to India-Pakistan relations (New Delhi has long criticized Pakistan for not cracking down on the various Pakistan-based organizations — from Lashkar-e-Taiba to the Haqqani network — that mount attacks on Indians). And, of course, it could also greatly improve U.S.-Pakistan ties (it bears mentioning that just days before Bajwa’s announcement, high-level Pakistani military officials held meetings at the Pentagon).

Still, let’s not get too excited.

First, U.S. officials allege that Haqqani network commanders were tipped off by Pakistan about the North Waziristan offensive, and have fled the area. If true, this suggests the military’s announcement could be mere spin, and that its policy toward the group hasn’t changed. It’s easy to talk tough about targeting your strategic asset if you’ve already ensured it won’t be harmed.

Second, Bajwa’s language was telling. “Whoever challenges the writ of the state will be taken to task,” he said. In fact, the Haqqani network doesn’t do this because it doesn’t target the Pakistani state. This language is reminiscent of Pakistani threats earlier this year to launch operations in North Waziristan against “anti-state groups” — clearly a reference to the likes of the Pakistani Taliban, not the Haqqani network.

Third, from a strategic perspective, it’s a strange time for Pakistan to turn on the Haqqani network. With much uncertainty (and more instability) likely to set in amid the NATO troop drawdown in Afghanistan, wouldn’t Pakistan want to tighten its ties with its old reliables? And particularly those long-time assets used to project influence and promote Pakistani interests in Afghanistan?

Bajwa’s statement was encouraging. Whether it was genuine, however, remains to be seen.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/07/pakistan-declares-war-on-haqqani-network/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan ZarbeAzb operation targets all militants including Haqqanis:

Pakistan will go after all militant groups in its unfolding operation in the North Waziristan tribal area, including insurgents who target neighboring Afghanistan, in what would be a major shift in policy, the defense minister said.

The minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, told The Wall Street Journal that the military offensive in North Waziristan would target the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Afghan Taliban that has been based in the tribal area for more than three decades. The Haqqanis are seen by the U.S. and Afghan governments as one of the main threats to stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan launched its offensive in North Waziristan with airstrikes three weeks ago, moving on to ground operations on June 30. North Waziristan, part of Pakistan's wild tribal areas along the Afghan border, is a sanctuary for Pakistani Taliban, Afghan insurgents and al Qaeda. Washington has pushed Islamabad for years to take control of the region.

"We will eliminate all sorts of terrorists from our area without any exceptions," said Mr. Asif. "If there are exceptions made, then the purpose of this operation will be defeated. It has to be without making any differentiation between our Taliban and their Taliban, or good Taliban and bad Taliban."

Pakistan has long been accused by neighbors and U.S. officials of backing jihadist groups as its proxies in Afghanistan and India.

Some Pakistani officials in the past have described the Afghan Taliban and some other jihadist groups as "good," while the government combats the more extreme "bad" militant organizations that turned on the Pakistani state.

In particular, Washington and Kabul have repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani network.

But Mr. Asif insisted Pakistan has changed its policy.

"They are all bad Taliban. There are no more good Taliban," he said.

Islamabad is trying to persuade Kabul to attack Pakistani Taliban groups that have taken refuge in eastern Afghanistan before and during the North Waziristan operation. Afghan authorities have indicated they won't act unless they see Pakistan fighting Kabul's enemies, such as the Haqqanis.

"If we have to get rid of these people, we have to get rid of them in totality, because this is something plaguing this area for three decades. Both sides of the Durand line, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we are in dire trouble," said Mr. Asif, referring to the border with Afghanistan.

However, such claims in the past of a tougher approach to militancy have been met with skepticism inside and outside Pakistan.

Saifullah Mahsud, director of the FATA Research Center, an independent think tank in Islamabad, said that according to his information, the Haqqani group had left North Waziristan before the operation.

"Pakistan has the opportunity of establishing its writ in North Waziristan now and stopping militants returning there," said Mr. Mahsud.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/pakistan-vows-to-target-all-militants-in-tribal-area-1404665711