Rebuffing U.S., Pakistan Balks at Crackdown

sob

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Rebuffing U.S., Pakistan Balks at Crackdown

Demands by the United States for Pakistan to crack down on the strongest Taliban warrior in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, whose fighters pose the biggest threat to American forces, have been rebuffed by the Pakistani military, according to Pakistani military officials and diplomats.

The Obama administration wants Pakistan to turn on Mr. Haqqani, a longtime asset of Pakistan’s spy agency who uses the tribal area of North Waziristan as his sanctuary. But, the officials said, Pakistan views the entreaties as contrary to its interests in Afghanistan beyond the timetable of President Obama’s surge, which envisions reducing American forces beginning in mid-2011.
The demands, first made by senior American officials before President Obama’s Afghanistan speech and repeated many times since, were renewed in a written message delivered in recent days by the United States Embassy to the head of the Pakistani military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, according to American officials. Gen. David H. Petraeus followed up on Monday during a visit to Islamabad.

The demands have been accompanied by strong suggestions that if the Pakistanis cannot take care of the problem, including dismantling the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, then the Americans will by resorting to broader and more frequent drone strikes in Pakistan.

But the Pakistani leadership has greeted the refrain with public silence and private anger, according to Pakistani officials and diplomats familiar with the conversations, illustrating the widening gulf between the allies over the Afghan war.
Former Pakistani military officers voice irritation with the Americans daily on television, part of a mounting grievance in Pakistan that the alliance with the United States is too costly to bear.

“It is really beginning to irk and anger us,” said a security official familiar with the deliberations at the senior levels of the Pakistani leadership.

The core reason for Pakistan’s imperviousness is its scant faith in the Obama troop surge, and what Pakistan sees as the need to position itself for a regional realignment in Afghanistan once American forces begin to leave.It considers Mr. Haqqani and his control of large areas of Afghan territory vital to Pakistan in the jostling for influence that will pit Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Iran against one another in the post-American Afghan arena, the Pakistani officials said.

Pakistan is particularly eager to counter the growing influence of its archenemy, India, which is pouring $1.2 billion in aid into Afghanistan. “If America walks away, Pakistan is very worried that it will have India on its eastern border and India on its western border in Afghanistan,” said Tariq Fatemi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States who is pro-American in his views.

For that reason, Mr. Fatemi said, the Pakistani Army is “very reluctant” to jettison Mr. Haqqani, Pakistan’s strong card in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Pakistanis do not want to alienate Mr. Haqqani because they consider him an important player in reconciliation efforts that they would like to see get under way in Afghanistan immediately, the officials said.

Because Mr. Haqqani shelters Qaeda leaders and operatives in North Waziristan, Washington is opposed to including Mr. Haqqani among the possible reconcilable Taliban, at least for the moment, a Western diplomat said.

In his reply to the Americans, General Kayani stressed a short-term argument, according to two Pakistani officials familiar with the response.

Pakistan currently has its hands full fighting the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan and other places, and it is beyond its capacity to open another front against the Afghan Taliban, the officials said of General Kayani’s response. The offensive has had the secondary effect of constraining the Haqqani network in North Waziristan and driving some of its commanders and fighters across the border to Afghanistan, senior American military officials in Afghanistan said.

But implicit in General Kayani’s reply was the fact that the homegrown Pakistani Taliban represent the real threat to Pakistan. General Kayani argued that they are the ones carrying out attacks against security installations and civilian markets in Pakistan’s cities and must be the army’s top priority, the officials said.

For his part, Mr. Haqqani fights in Afghanistan, and is considered more of an asset than a threat by the Pakistanis. But he is the most potent force fighting the United States, American and Pakistani officials agree.

He has subcommanders threaded throughout eastern and southern Afghanistan. His fighters control Paktika, Paktia and Khost Provinces in Afghanistan, which lie close to North Waziristan. His men are also strong in Ghazni, Logar and Wardak Provinces, the officials said.

Because Mr. Haqqani now spends so much time in Afghanistan — about three weeks of every month, according to a Pakistani security official — if the Americans want to eliminate him, their troops should have ample opportunity to capture him, Pakistani security officials argue.

As a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a leading mujahedeen fighter against the Soviets who is now aged and apparently confined to bed, Siraj Haqqani is keeper of a formidable lineage and history.

In the early 1970s, the father attended a well-known madrasa, Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqaniya in the Pakistani town of Akora Khattack in North-West Frontier Province.

In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani received money and arms from the C.I.A. routed through Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, to fight the Soviets, according to Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the Afghan Taliban and the author of “Descent Into Chaos.”

In the 1990s, when the Taliban ran Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani served as governor of Paktia Province.

The relationship between the Haqqanis and Osama bin Laden dates back to the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, according to Kamran Bokhari, the South Asia director for Stratfor, a geopolitical risk analysis company. When the Taliban government collapsed at the end of 2001 and Qaeda operatives fled from Tora Bora to Pakistan, the Haqqanis relocated their command structure to North Waziristan and welcomed Al Qaeda, Mr. Bokhari said.

The biggest gift of the Pakistanis to the Haqqanis was the use of North Waziristan as their fief, he said.

The Pakistani Army did not appear to be assisting the Haqqanis with training or equipment, he said. More than 20 members of the Haqqani family were killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan last year, showing the limits of how far the Pakistanis could protect them, Mr. Bokhari said.

Today, Siraj Haqqani has anywhere from 4,000 to 12,000 Taliban under his command. He is technically a member of the Afghan Taliban leadership based in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province.

That leadership is headed by Mullah Omar, the former leader of the Taliban regime. But Mr. Haqqani operates fairly independently of them inside Afghanistan.

He finances his operations in part through kidnappings and other illicit activities. The Haqqani network held David Rohde, a correspondent for The New York Times, for seven months, seeking ransom until he escaped in June.

Siraj Haqqani maintains an uneasy relationship with the Pakistani Taliban, said Maulana Yousaf Shah, the administrator of the madrasa at Akora Khattack.

Mr. Haqqani believed that the chief jihadi objective should be forcing the foreigners out of Afghanistan, and had tried but failed to redirect the Pakistani Taliban to fight in Afghanistan as well, he said.
 

sob

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This is the same group which was behind the kidnapping of the NYT reporter David Rhodes. Rhodes on his release from captivity clearly describes how he was taken in the back of an open vehicle through Pakistani Military checkposts accompanied by the son of Haqqani and none of the soldiers even gave a second glance at the vehicle.

More on this Haqqani network,

The Network Behind the Kidnapping of David Rohde

After New York Times reporter David Rohde escaped last weekend, it became clear that the Haqqani network was behind the kidnapping. The network is probably the most sophisticated, best organized criminal group in Afghanistan, responsible for a well coordinated attack on President Hamid Karzai in April 2008, and a spectacular assault on government offices in Khost last month.

They are Taliban affiliated, though the Haqqani family was well-known in Afghanistan long before the Taliban came to power.


One of the best piece of reporting I’ve seen on Haqqani is this story by Anand Gopal, a friend and colleague from The Christian Science Monitor. Gopal traces the Haqqani family line to Jalaluddin Haqqani, who fought the Russians with uncommon bravery during the early eighties.

Even today, members of the Afghan government revere the Haqqani name. One member of the Afghan parliament, who was childhood friends with the elder Haqqani told Gopal that he is, ” a virtuous and noble man, with an unwavering belief in Islam,”

Though Haqqani joined the Taliban in the 1990’s, he never approved of their heavy handed style of governance. Later, when the US invaded Afghanistan, he was a fence-sitter and even considered joining the new government. But the death of his children at the hands of the coalition, made his decision for him.

His close ties to ISI—Pakistan’s intelligence agency—made him an invaluable asset to the insurgency, and also enabled his network to wage war against the invaders, independent of the Taliban.

Now Haqqani’s son Sirajuddin is said to be taking the reigns of the organization, expanding its base and internationalizing support systems.

The independence of groups like the Haqqani network shows that NATO has much more to worry about in Afghanistan, security wise, then the Taliban. If the Taliban disappeared tomorrow, groups like Haqqani would still be very active. They operate independently, get funding from abroad and have safe havens in Pakistan to plan deadly attacks.

Given that they have also turned to kidnapping journalists, we may be getting fewer and fewer first hand accounts of how and why those attacks come about.
 

sob

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A detailed information on this Haqqani Group and their importance to Pakistan and their future startegies,

HAQQANI NETWORK

Overview
Named after its leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Haqqani Network is a group within the insurgency in Afghanistan that is based out of North Wazirstan in the Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The group has been active mainly in the east of Afghanistan—in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni Wardak and even Kabul provinces

Leadership

The group is still believed to be led by the old (estimated over sixty years) and ailing Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani. Mawlawi Haqqani is a former anti-Soviet resistance commander known for ruthless effectiveness as a fighter. His ties to Pakistan, and his base in and around Miram Shah, go as far back as his exile during the Republican government of Sardar Daud in early 1970s. He was initially a part of the many mujahideen leaders that formed Hizb-e-Islami. When Hezb-e Islami fractured in the late 1970s, Haqqani followed Yunis Khalis rather than Hekmatyar, and became one of the most important commanders in the Hezb-e Islami (Khalis) or HIK. When Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan, Haqqani was in Pakistan with the other key mujahideen leaders. Haqqani later became a field commander in Mawlawi Yunis Khalis’s Hizb-e-Islami. He received significant support from the CIA and from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), and built up a sizable and competent militia force by the mid-1980s. Haqqani is believed to be influenced by radical Islamist principles drawn from the early Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt , which were prevalent among many of the religiously-motivated Afghan mujahideen of that time. Mawlawi Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani run a number of madrassas and training camps in North Wazirstan.1 Due to his father’s ill health, Sirajuddin Haqqani is reported to be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the movement.

The Haqqanis hail from the Zadran qaum (tribe), who are mostly based in Paktia and Khost provinces in the east of Afghanistan. Their support base has always been in that area with a base in the FATA’s North Wazirstan.

The Battles for Khost, 1985-1987

The mujahideen had isolated the Soviet/Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) garrison at Khost early in the war, taking advantage of the fact that there is only one major road linking Khost with the rest of Afghanistan—the Khost-Gardez road that runs through the Satekandav Pass. In summer 1985, Haqqani gathered several thousand fighters and assaulted the city of Khost itself, overrunning Soviet and DRA outposts and requiring a significant Soviet counter-attack to save the city.2 Heavy fighting continued in 1986, including operations during which Haqqani was reportedly burned by napalm while leading his soldiers.3 On each occasion, Haqqani and other key leaders in his group withdrew to Waziristan when it became clear that the temporary Soviet firepower would overwhelm them if they continued to resist. The Soviets lacked any overall operational concept for their efforts in the Greater Paktia area (and, generally, in the war), and never attempted to maintain military dominance in the area over the long term.


In 1987, the Soviet leadership decided to undertake a major effort to open the Khost-Gardez road long enough to get supplies in to the town and its garrison. Operation MAGISTRAL (MAINLINE), as it was called, was the major Soviet military effort of that year, overseen directly by Colonel General Boris Gromov, commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Gromov made numerous attempts to negotiate with Haqqani and Zadran tribal elders to secure safe passage for supplies to Khost without fighting. It is not clear whether or not Haqqani himself participated in negotiations, but Zadran tribal elders certainly did and they drew out the discussions intentionally to allow time for their forces to react. Two weeks of hard fighting allowed the Soviet forces to secure the Satekandav Pass. The arrival of Soviet reinforcements and the elimination of a key insurgent base convinced Haqqani to withdraw his forces temporarily. The Soviets resupplied the garrison and then withdrew from the area.4 By 1989, all Soviet forces had withdrawn from the country.

Haqqani had consolidated his military position in Greater Paktia, establishing a Shura (Council) to coordinate military operations in the area, but he did not attempt to establish political control as Ismail Khan did in western Afghanistan. Nor was he able to extend his reach by forming regional coalitions, as Ahmad Shah Masood did in the north.5 His forces were, however, able to capture Khost in 1991 from the communist government of Dr. Mohammad Najibullah—becoming the first mujahideen commander to seize and hold a major Afghan city after the Soviet withdrawal. (The final assault on the city was led by his brother Ibrahim Haqqani. Jalaluddin was in Miram Shah at that point.) Haqqani received a ministry in the new government of Burhanuddin Rabbani, but defected to the Taliban in 1995.6

The relationship between Haqqani and the Taliban government was not smooth. Haqqani is a member of the Ghilzai tribe of Pashtuns, whose lands lie generally east of Kandahar, whereas the Taliban leadership was largely from the Durrani tribe and particularly from sub-tribes around Kandahar itself. Ghilzais prided themselves on the role they had played in defeating the Soviets, and Haqqani and other Ghilzais resented the primacy of the Kandahari Taliban. Haqqani received a large sum of money to recruit soldiers for the vital Taliban campaign of 1995 that led to the seizure of Kabul, but tensions with the Kandahari officers he was assigned, among other things, led to mass desertions from among his forces.7 Haqqani’s respect for his Kandahari masters eroded further following the disastrous Taliban defeat in Mazar-e Sharif in 1997 at the hands of the Northern Alliance.8 He nevertheless remained loyal to the Taliban government, becoming Minister of Tribal Affairs. In late September 2001, Mullah Omar appointed Haqqani the commander-in-chief of the Taliban armed forces.
contd.....
 

sob

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Haqqani Network

Arab/al-Qaida ties

Haqqani speaks fluent Arabic and one of his two wives is from the United Arab Emirates10 – assets that have helped him raise a great deal of money from Saudi Arabia and individuals in the Persian Gulf. He also frequently travels to Gulf Arab states, where he is highly respected and has key contacts from the times of the anti-Soviet war. Haqqani established a close relationship with Osama Bin Laden in the 1980s and: “It's not a coincidence that the first camps that bin Laden created in Afghanistan, Lion's Den and some related infrastructure that he started to build, were in Haqqani's territory.”12 The Haqqanis currently run a network of religious seminaries and training bases of Afghan and foreign fighters in North and South Waziristan.13 A U.S. military spokesman in eastern Afghanistan, Maj. Chris Belcher, has accused the Haqqanis of inviting foreign fighters from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries into Afghanistan.14

Pakistan Connection

Haqqani’s connection with the ISI dates back to the times of the Soviet jihad. According to U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Afghanistan (1989-1992), Peter Tomsen, the ISI has maintained its Jihad era ties with Haqqani. Right after the U.S. invasion in October 2001, Haqqani was invited to Islamabad for talks about a post-Taliban government. In a transcript passed to Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence in May 2008, Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani was heard referring to Haqqani as “a strategic asset.” A top ISI official was reported to have held talks with Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of Jalaluddin’s sons who has replaced him as the leader of the movement due to his father’s ill-health, in Miranshah of North Waziristan in early March 2009. In a prisoner exchange with Pakistani Taliban led by Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani government released three family members of the Haqqani family in November 2007 – Haqqani’s brother Khalil Ahmad, son Dr. Fazl-i-Haqqani and brother-in-law Ghazi Khan. Haqqani is said to have mediated peace deals between the Pakistani government and Waziri and Mehsudi commanders of the Pakistani Taliban in North and South Waziristan.

War Strategies/Tactics

U.S. military officials says the Haqqanis were behind most of attacks in eastern Afghanistan in 2008.21 Sirajuddin has been working to expand his father’s traditional operational base of Khost, Paktia and Paktika to other provinces in the east, such as Ghazni, Logar, Wardak and Kabul.22 He has also sought closer ties with foreign terrorist groups and adopted far more brutal tactics. “Siraj Haqqani is the one who is training, influencing, commanding and leading,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dave Anders, Combined Joint Task Force-82 director of operations. “Kidnappings, assassinations, beheading women, indiscriminate killings and suicide bombers - Siraj is the one dictating the new parameters of brutality associated with Taliban senior leadership.”23

The Haqqanis, with the help of ISI, are alleged by Afghan and American intelligence officials to have been behind the recent simultaneous attacks on government buildings in Kabul,24 a suicide attack on the Indian Embassy on July 7, 2008,25 and an assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai in April, 2008.26 The Afghan National Security Directorate said it had destroyed a terrorist network involved in at least six suicide bombings in the capital, Kabul, which was run jointly by the Haqqanis, Harakat-al-Mujahedin, and ISI.27 The Haqqanis collaborate with the Mullah Omar-led Taliban forces, but try to keep their leadership in the east. A letter reportedly issued by the Haqqanis in 2008 grieving about the loss of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah Lang called on the Taliban forces to replace Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Quetta.28 While the letter praised Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, Siraj Haqqani has repeatedly voiced loyalty to Mullah Omar.
Clearly the work of the US led ISAF is cut out. They have to take out this network, to succeed in Afganistan.
 

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