Exclusive: U.S. Demands Pakistan Arrest “Hit List” of Top Haqqani & Taliban Leaders

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From The Cipher Brief: KIMBERLY DOZIER, February 15, 2018:

The Trump administration has given Pakistan a new “hit list” of nearly a dozen top militants to detain, to show its willingness to fight terrorism, but the U.S. won’t share intelligence that would help lead to their capture, and has snubbed Pakistani requests to meet CIA chief Mike Pompeo in Washington, a senior Pakistani official tells The Cipher Brief.

“The feeling is there is nothing we can do to make a difference,” the senior Pakistani official said. “They are scapegoating Pakistan for their failure to bring peace in Afghanistan despite more than a decade of conflict.”

In response, senior U.S. administration officials would only say that Washington has asked Pakistan to take “specific” action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which have been blamed for recent violent attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan. The officials tell The Cipher Brief that Pakistan’s intelligence service and military have failed to sever ties with either militant group and continue to protect their top leaders within Pakistani territory.

“We have seen Pakistan take some modest steps that appear to be responsive to some of our concerns, but we haven’t seen the decisive action against the Taliban and Haqqani network,” one of the officials said. “They are doing the minimum necessary to alleviate the pressure.”

The he-said, she-said highlights the continued tension between the Trump administration and Islamabad that spiked in January when President Donald Trump greeted the new year by tweeting that Pakistan has shown “nothing but lies and deceit” in return for U.S. aid.

Two Pakistani officials say that since that tweet, Islamabad has turned over more than two-dozen militants to Afghanistan who were on an earlier list of militants the U.S. asked Pakistan to “lawfully detain.” That includes the senior leaders of the Haqqani network, the official said. Siraj Haqqani is at the top of that list, as he’s wanted by the FBI for his roles in running military operations for both the Haqqani network and the Taliban, according to Bill Roggio of FDD’s Long War Journal.

The officials said they don’t believe the high-level targets on the new U.S. list are in Pakistan, and they griped that the U.S. won’t share coordinates of where the high-level targets are, even though Pakistan has “offered to fly U.S. operatives anywhere in Pakistan and bomb whatever they tell us to bomb,” one of the officials said.

The Pakistanis further complained that while the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan is afforded meetings with top Pakistani government, military and intelligence officials, the Trump administration has refused to host Pakistani officials at CIA headquarters since taking office.

The U.S. officials say they “cannot verify Pakistani claims to have turned over Taliban or Haqqani militants to Afghan custody,” adding that Pakistan “has at times rounded up Afghan refugees for deportation, rather than actual Taliban or Haqqani members.”

“We are confident that Pakistan knows the locations of senior Taliban and Haqqani militants on its soil, and could take action against them, if it chose to do so,” one of the officials said.

As for the complaint that the CIA chief has snubbed senior Pakistani officials in Washington, the U.S. officials said, “robust bilateral consultations continue,” with Pakistan, including with the “Department of Defense and the intelligence community.”

All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity, declining to be quoted by name. The CIA declined to comment, and the Afghan embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.


https://www.thecipherbrief.com/arti...122613241&mc_cid=2b28c221b9&mc_eid=6f39bee30e
 

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