‘No sanctuaries in Pakistan’: Haqqani network shifts base to Afghanistan

Published: September 18, 2011

Leader of the group says they feel more secure in Afghanistan; offers to take part in peace talks if the Taliban do.

ISLAMABAD: 

The Haqqani network, one of the most feared Taliban groups in Afghanistan, no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan, and instead feels secure inside Afghanistan, its leader Sirajuddin Haqqani said on Saturday.

“Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people. Senior military and police officials are with us,” Sirajuddin, believed to be in his late 30s, told Reuters in a rare telephone interview from an undisclosed location.

“There are sincere people in the Afghan government who are loyal to the Taliban as they know our goal is the liberation of our homeland from the clutches of occupying forces,” he said.

The United States has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the Haqqani network it believes is based in the North Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would “do everything we can” to defend US forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan. The US believes militants from the Haqqani network were behind Tuesday’s rocket attack on the US embassy compound in Kabul.

Asked if the Haqqani network was behind the assault, Sirajuddin said: “For some reasons, I would not like to claim that fighters of our group had carried out the recent attack on US embassy and Nato headquarters. Our central leadership, particularly senior members of the shura, suggested I should keep quiet in future if the US and its allies suffer in future.”

About the Afghan reconciliation plan, Sirajuddin said his group would take part in peace talks with the Kabul government and the United States only if the Taliban did.

The Haqqanis technically fall under the command of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, though US officials believe they can act independently.

The Haqqanis rejected several peace gestures from the United States and President Hamid Karzai’s government in the past because they were an attempt to “create divisions” between militant groups, he said. Any further efforts to do so would fail, added Sirajuddin.

“They offered us very very important positions but we rejected and told them they would not succeed in their nefarious designs. They wanted to divide us,” said Sirajuddin. “We would support whatever solution our shura members suggest for the future of Afghanistan,” he said, referring to the Afghan Taliban leadership.

Security analyst Ejaz Haider described Sirajuddin’s comments as a shift. “Sirajuddin’s statement now is significant as a signal to the United States. That ‘we are prepared to talk if you want to talk seriously and as part of the larger dialogue with the Taliban’,” he said.

In what Sirajuddin, who carries a US bounty of $5million, described as a further sign of strength, the Haqqanis are also consolidating their hold on eastern Afghanistan, forcing rival insurgent groups out of territory they have claimed.

He said fighters from Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami group, had tried to take on US troops in the Haqqani territory.

“I spoke to the shura … whether I should allow them to operate in my area of control. They did not allow me and then I ordered Hekmatyar’s fighters to either join the Taliban or leave Khost and they left the area,” he said.

Asked whether there are 10,000 Haqqani fighters as some media reports have suggested, Sirajuddin laughed and said: “That figure is actually less than the actual number.”

The Haqqani network is perhaps the most divisive issue between Pakistan and the United States.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (61)

  • Maher
    Sep 17, 2011 - 12:22PM

    Same was said for Al-Qadeea and OBL..

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Sep 17, 2011 - 12:37PM

    ” The Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, has long been suspected of maintaining ties with the Haqqani network”. Fantastic ! The media should be lauded that even after 10 years of investigative journalism they are not sure whether the Haqqani network has ties with the ISI. Is the Media interested in getting to the truth or is its job to obfuscate ?
    The Media was also not too keen to find out who killed Saleem Shahzad ? Now the media claims that the Haqqani group has shifted base to Afghanistan. Has this news been verified by independent reporters from North Waziristan or is the intention, kite flying. Integrity is the foundation of any business and if the Media conduct is tailored to defending the indefensible it has no business to question the actions of those in Power with any degree of credibility.

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  • Muhammad Ayaz
    Sep 17, 2011 - 12:39PM

    Ruthless!!!

    Is he ruthless or Mr. George W Bush whose senseless declaration of crusades killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan. They are the freedom fighters trying to liberate their country from the foreign forces occupying their land.

    Long live Haqqani.

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  • Arindom
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:03PM

    Yeah Right!! We believe you!!

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  • Sashi
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:06PM

    Yeah, right! And pigs have wings!!!!!

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  • Faiz
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:17PM

    Who has given the right to USA to invade Afghanistan?

    If USA has no ethics then why do we have. stone must be broke by stone.

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  • M Arsalan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:28PM

    Afghanistan would soon be liberated from the cluches of these oppressive ruthless NATO forces. U.S perhaps needs to be something more than superpower to face mujahideen! Better luck next time ….

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  • Sep 17, 2011 - 1:28PM

    @Muhammad Ayaz:
    Yawn. Tell it to China. They’ll at least pretend to care.

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  • khan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:29PM

    This man doesn’t seem to be a fighterRecommend

  • Chengez Kengez K
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:46PM

    American should have peace talks with Taliban/Haqqanis.

    Time for change has come

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  • faraz
    Sep 17, 2011 - 2:10PM

    He should expel Alqaeda and TTP

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  • Sarcastic
    Sep 17, 2011 - 2:16PM

    @Arindom….yes, as if you are sitting next to Haqqani right now and know their location

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  • Roflcopter
    Sep 17, 2011 - 2:27PM

    lol Haqqani just killed the U.S. “North Waziristan” argument.

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  • mfhussain
    Sep 17, 2011 - 2:45PM

    then I’m sure he won’t mind us going into n waziristan. and cleaning out the Taliban destroying Pakistan

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  • Salman
    Sep 17, 2011 - 3:32PM

    He has the right to fighting against the occupying force.

    Before blaming Haqqani group can any American tell us that who has kidnapped our 30 children ? Why so many cross border raids on Pakistani forces recently ? If Pakistan is numb so as the US and NATO forces. They are doing nothing in their side of the border. I dont think Haqqani is inside Pak especially after OBL incident or he might have been taken by the drone by now.

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  • White Russian
    Sep 17, 2011 - 3:57PM

    “There are NO Taliban sanctuaries on Pakistani soil” for over a decade, and the suddenly “no longer in Pakistan”. Wonder why world does not believe us? Because we use every tactic to its limit, till it explodes.

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  • kcs
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:05PM

    I hope NIA was able to trace this phone line where this messiah was calling from? Go CIA Go, Time for a raid

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  • aaa
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:07PM

    His statement will hurt India and CIA a lot.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:07PM

    @khan:
    I agree with you he looks to be a honourable and civilised person who cannot tell a lie. Moreover he is an important leader of the strategic assets patronised by the military and a future ruler of Afghanistan. God bless both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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  • buttjee
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:09PM

    Haqqani is absolutely right in saying that the Taliban feel safer in Afghanistan than in Pakistan. The Govt. in Kabul does not have control over the areas beyond Kabul. Taliban and their sympathizers have successfully infiltrated into the Afghan National Army and the Intelligence. There they have greater freedom of action. With the population being sympathetic, movement over a well known terrain even in the hours of darkness poses no problem and they can conveniently approach a target undetected.

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  • Pundit
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:09PM

    “The Haqqani network, one of the most feared insurgent groups in Afghanistan, no longer has sanctuaries in Pakistan ”

    The Haqqani network moved out their sanctuaries last night .Recommend

  • abhi
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:11PM

    hahaha as if anybody believes him after OBL incident.Recommend

  • observer
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:22PM

    For long the Pakistani masters have been trying to relocate the Haqqani horde to Kurram Agency. The Shias of Parchinar resisted this and paid a heavy price. Looks like finally the relocation exercise has commenced.

    For some reasons, I would not like to claim that fighters of our group had carried out the recent attack on US embassy and NATO headquarters.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:30PM

    So if that is true — then why won’t Pakistani troops go into N Waziristan?

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  • Sep 17, 2011 - 6:01PM

    So the Haqqanis are allied with the same Taliban who have kidnapped Pakistani children to say the least….and everyone is getting excited about how apparently the US is being proved wrong? Our priorities are totally messed up! These guys have a nation of 180 million held at ransom!

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  • Nasir
    Sep 17, 2011 - 6:57PM

    His father was a hero to US govt and citizens because he was fighting for the freedom of his country from USSR. Now he is doing the same but he is terrorist to US and to our so called secular Pakistanis?

    Before anyone question his position, he needs to ask the Americans what they are doing in Afghanistan, especially after OBL?

    We agree that TTP and Alqaida are terrorists but how can we take the right to fight for their freedom from Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and Gulbadeen Hikmatyar? If, God forbid, some country make a direct attack on our beloved Pakistan, will we not fight to defend it? And if we do, will we be terrorists? Simply because the baised UN or US and western world will declare us as that?Recommend

  • Zafar
    Sep 17, 2011 - 7:20PM

    1 Million Terrorists will be sacrificed for every American killed on 9/11. This is just the start. Keep fooling yourself by saying the americans are losing, the Americans will keep hunting you till you have been wiped off the face of this planet.

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  • Pragmatist
    Sep 17, 2011 - 7:43PM

    For all we know this person may be Haqqani himself. They all look eerily alike.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Sep 17, 2011 - 7:57PM

    @Cautious:
    You have made an important observation but it so appears that assets’s reallocation to Kurram and other places is still not complete to commence the operations in NW.

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  • Ben
    Sep 17, 2011 - 8:14PM

    The Afghanistan misadventure has not only changed the world; it has distorted its civil and human face. Taliban’s ability to carry out this multi-target and multi-location but finely coordinated operation in the Afghan capital lays bare the depth of the U.S.-NATO failure in the country. Nearly a decade into the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan no section of the country is secure; not even the heart of the capital. Apparently only six Taliban fighters kept Afghan and NATO forces engaged for over twenty hours in the Wazir Akhbar Khan district. Do these attacks suggest that fate of the NATO forces in Afghanistan is not going to be any different from that of the USSR? Shrewd Taliban strategists are employing the same tactics which were used to economically bleed the Soviet Union. Michael F. Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer, rightly depicted bin Laden as a rational actor who is fighting to weaken the United States by weakening its economy, rather than merely combating and killing Americans.

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  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 17, 2011 - 8:22PM

    Pakistan is getting into a high stake lethal game. Cost of failure will be incalculable. Most Pakistanis do not understand that they are just playing the role of a Chinese front man. Whatever may be the results of this standoff Pakistan is bound to suffer. The Chinese are over ambitious. They are underestimating the US. The Pakistanis must see that they are being dragged in a war where they are the weakest single participant. On one side is the US. On the other side is China and Pakistan. Now let us suppose Indo-Pak talks fail in the event of a Mumbai like attack. Pakistan does not have the economic strength to face India in the east and US in the West. Even if China supports Pakistan an alliance of NATO and USA with India and some support from Japan and Australia will be a formidable force. No power or consortium of powers in the world can think of challenging such an alliance. And we have to remember that the stage of this muscle flexing or showdown will be the Pakistani soil. The Nuclear assets of Pakistan will ensure that such a showdown will be in the nature of proxy-war or limited wars. In any situation the sufferings of the Pakistani common man will be colossal.

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  • ayesha
    Sep 17, 2011 - 9:29PM

    @Salman:
    “He has the right to fighting against the occupying force”.

    Sure. Haqqanis stand is internally consistent. They think Americans are occupiers and are fighting them. The question is what is Pakistani stand on the Haqqanis. On the one hand they take out ads in Wall Street Journal about Pak’s contribution to the War on Terror and also get billions in aid on that basis. On the other hand, they provide safe sanctuaries to the killers of NATO soldiers. It is this hypocrisy that undermines Pakistan’s credibility.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 9:53PM

    Thank GOD Haqqani has spoken and Panetta must have noted his new address and will be able to strike some deal,surely American still think their $ can buy any thing.USA is fleecing by garbing all resources and oil of arabs and Afghans are fleecing and draining USA very nicely .”Not a big deal” ambassador words are cowboy film dialogue.American will not be allowed to settle down by any neighbouring country all will invest on freedom fighters.Its natural nobody liked to shares with world renowned monster sitting next door for dictating terms when he has no legal right.Sadr of Mehdi malitia in Iraq has given clear cut of date for last US soldier to leave.Americans have already lost biggest oil drilling bidding in Iraq.WORST is going to happen in Afghanistan well before 2014.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:09PM

    @ayesha:
    if you the meaning of double game which Americans always played with us being a so called friend,what we are doing/happening with them ,they taught us in the last five decades.they took us for granted by sponsoring dictator after dictator.The biggest lie they are talking now is democracy has come due to them in Pakistan.

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  • Nasir
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:19PM

    @ Ayesha

    I will ask a broader question. What is Pakistan’s stand on Afghanistan? Pakistan ostensibly provides safe sanctuaries to killers of occupied forces in Afghanistan but Pakistan does facilitate US and NATO forces in killing Afghans by providing them bases and routs to their supplies. Is it OK with you? Why don’t you people say something about that? If your neighbor facilitates your enemy in attacking you, will you just praise him?

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:20PM

    @Straight_Talk:
    Very interesting,I wish that happen soon so that this worst ends,why haven’t you considered what role will Iran and Russia have in this picture you have painted.

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  • Sep 17, 2011 - 10:38PM

    @feroz sir jee it is important to have links these peoples then u know what they r doing and what they r up to ,its same the american have proxies in region like ur owm TTP what u think from where they getting money have u look into how much it cost to run groups ,?
    they r attacking us from kunar and nurustan province ,who supporting them sir jee ,?
    saleem shazad i read his articles this asia times on line is online paper not printing one and when this paper began not more than 6 years ago,in this cyber age u have to look into it who is running who many papers only onlines most them hoax.
    sir jee look ur interest saleem shazad when he was taking us aid money he knew what he was doing u can see christian science moniter report that us gave money to lafa shafies .
    i am not in favour of haqqanies but if u keep following the tunes of americans then sir jee ur in big touble america is bankrupt it has no money to entertain u more ,Recommend

  • buttjee
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:44PM

    @ ayesha

    It is not in Pakistan’s interest to get involved with Haqqani network or any other faction of Afghan or Pakistani Taliban. Basically it is a trap and we should be wise enough to stay away from it. Today the resources of Pakistan Army are already over stretched due to its involvement in Swat, Dir, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Orakzai Agency and in Kurram Valley. Helicopters and other military equipment are wearing out at a very fast pace. The second and most important reason for Pakistan to stay away from North Waziristan is the non cooperation of NATO and complicity of Afghan and Indian intelligence with Pakistani Taliban. When Pakistan Army started its operations in Dir and Bajaur, the NATO forces immediately removed their border check posts from the adjoining areas. This action on the part of NATO forces had a negative effect on our Army’s operations and helped the Taliban to slip into Afghanistan where they are now living as the guests of Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies. For the last few months they have been attacking our border posts with the tacit approval of US and NATO forces. Today if we give in to the US pressure and attack the Taliban in North Waziristan, they will also slip into Afghanistan and later on join hands with the hostile intelligence agencies to attack Pakistani border posts and border villages. In any case US should be more concerned about the 85% Taliban which are hiding in various districts of Afghanistan where they enjoy complete support from the local population.

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  • The Flying Object
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:16AM

    My God. The West never learns from History.

    Don’t they know that the present Pak-Afghan border was drawn by the British?

    Why?

    Because they couldn’t conquer it… Same happened to Russia.

    Do I need to say more???

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 4:02AM

    @buttjee: your argument falls apart right at the end..the Taliban do not enjoy the complete support of the Taliban, even amongst there fellow tribesman and pushtuns. They have killed as many sons, fathers, mothers and sisters of there fellow Afghans as the TTP in Pakistan. Second, isnt N Waziristan part of Pakistan? Are the people who live in N Waziristan not Pakistani citizens? Do they not deserve the protection of the state? Its okay for them to be ruled over by the Haqqanis?

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  • Tariq
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:48AM

    And Osama was in Afghanistan as confirmed by Mush, Zardari, ISI and Haqani.

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:29AM

    @Roflcopter

    lol Haqqani just killed the U.S. “North Waziristan” argument

    OK,Now that the ‘good Taliban’ is safely spirited elsewhere and only the ‘bad Taliban’ aka TTP is left behind. Shall we see the brave Pak Afwaz marching into NWA some time soon?
    Or will it happen only after TTP has also been located elsewhere?

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 9:25AM

    Vienna,18-09-2011
    It is reality. Haqqanies are mobile. They are on the move.
    Pakistan or Afghanistan it is immaterial. The challenge is
    to disable them. It is American/NATO job not of Pakistan.
    The message is that simple.The new message awaits
    response.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:26AM

    @Faiz

    Who has given the right to USA to invade Afghanistan?
    If USA has no ethics then why do we have.

    There are so many things the US does not have but you do. Would you like to give up all of them.

    A. Islamic Republic -US does not have.

    B. Shariah Laws- US does not have.

    C. Blasphemy Laws- US does not have.

    D. Periodic Army Rule- US does not have.

    E. Nuclear Black Market-US does not have.

    I am sure you can find many other things.

    PS-Does receiving money to hunt OBL and then not doing it, sound very ‘ethical’ to you?

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  • Sep 18, 2011 - 10:16AM

    **Thats good sighn for pakistan & i hope k ab pakistan main aman qaim ho jay ga.

    Pakistan Paindabad**

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  • BruteForce
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:19PM

    TTP has claimed many times it doesn’t kill innocent people and it is the work for “foreign agants”. Will you believe that?

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  • buttjee
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:01PM

    @ Observer

    Every country has its own laws, customs and religious sensitivities which other countries may not have. It is for the people of that particular country to decide what laws they want to have and what type of religious activity and practices they would like to have in their country. It is non of your concern to question anything of that sort. On the other hand we should have no doubt that the US invasion of Afghanistan was uncalled for and counter productive. Terrorism is a curse but there are better ways of fighting this curse. Invading a sovereign country and killing of millions of innocent citizens cannot be justified with any reasoning. Surely this blatant act of violation of civilized traditions has set a very dangerous example. It is a mistake and a big failure in terms of its outcome. Ten years after fighting this nonsensical war we are no where near the extinction of terrorism and surely the world is not safer than what it was at the time of 9/11.

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  • Ahmed
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:45PM

    @abhi:
    But many people simply don’t believe in OBL incident, as it is shrouded in huge mystery!

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2011 - 10:59PM

    @Buttjee

    Would you care to explain ‘Ethics’ independent of “laws, customs and religious sensitivities”. You see ethics do not exist independent of these supporting concepts.
    And therefore, when some one talks of abandoning ‘ethics’ because the others do not have it, you end up with a package deal and have to abandon a whole lot more than mere ethics.
    Ten years after fighting this nonsensical war we are no where near the extinction of terrorism and surely the world is not safer than what it was at the time of 9/11.
    There are several ways of looking at it.
    One, for the past ten years the effort suffered as it got distracted to an entirely unrelated and unnecessary Iraq war.
    Two because of US shortsightedness the effort was concentrated on the Afghan symptom rather than the disease hiding elsewhere . Hopefully post Abbottabad the disease will be treated properly.
    Three, there has not been another 9/11 in 10 years.The capacity of the perpetrators, despite state support from certain quarters is much reduced.

    Let us build on that.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:37AM

    @Sarcastic:
    ever hard of “sarcasm” style of writing?

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  • Robert Stokes
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:22AM

    For all I know, Pakistan could be getting these guys to say they moved to Afghanistan. if you think about it, what possible advantage this Haqqani guy would gain by saying this publicly. Also, why did he suddenly have the urge to grant interviews?

    Nice trick. This is up there with Pakistani rulers have said they don’t have any training camps, OBL doesn’t live there and the Quetta Shura doesn’t exist. We know better.

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  • Doctor
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:33AM

    First, there is no reason to believe such cowardly terrorists.

    Second, they are lying because they are so scared of being killed by drones. They think that by providing misinformation, they will be able to escape the drones.

    Third, there are no good Taliban. That is a lie that is ruining Pakistan today. Strategic depth is a load of @#$(@!

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  • Babloo
    Sep 19, 2011 - 7:18AM

    I thought Haqanni brothers were never in Waziristan as the establishment said. Is Mr Haqanni now saying that the world was lied to by the establishment ?

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  • Vigilant
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:17PM

    @observer

    “WE DONOT NEED YOUR DEFINATION OF ETHICS”
    and you need to study american history before supporting american ethics….there are thousand things which are and were unhuman but maintained by so called ETHICAL community but we donot have….can you explain why???

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  • observer
    Sep 19, 2011 - 6:59PM

    @Vigilant

    “WE DONOT NEED YOUR DEFINATION OF ETHICS”

    And pray, what is ‘my’ definition of Ethics?
    And exactly where did you find me supporting American ethics. My post simply said you can not abandon ethics without abandoning some other values including religious values.
    And is accepting money to do something and then doing exactly the opposite your definition of Ethics.

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  • Gul bahadur
    Sep 22, 2011 - 1:22PM

    If the group has shifted to Afghanistan then who is fighting the Turi tribes in Kurram Or kurram is part of Afghanistan(as it was before).You better tell this to the Americans and the Turi tribesmen and take out your Bathakhoor Army before it is too late.You don’t have a Bhutoo to negotiate their release.

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  • mussarat
    Sep 27, 2011 - 3:27AM

    Thank God no sanctuaries in Pakistan. Very Good. But tell me honestly what is the source of the Old-styled” Breaking News so that civilized world can decide whether sanctuaries “exist” in Pakistan.

    Well-wisher of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    Mussarat

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  • mussarat
    Sep 27, 2011 - 3:29AM

    Has Afhgan government admitted that Haqqani Network has shifted to Pakistan and being taken care by the Karzai government?.

    Mussarat

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  • Shafiq Nasery
    Oct 6, 2011 - 10:26AM

    @Muhammad Ayaz:
    if pakistanis were any sincere to afghans and didn’t provide bases for US to bombardment Afghanistan we would have never been invaded, it was pakistan to provide US the opportunity of invasion not US Pakistanis can sell their motherland for some rupees and US was paying billion of dollars for a sovereign country not pakistan so it was a good deal and pakis took it now they want to be brothers with afghans. silly brother.

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  • Ashraf P
    Oct 6, 2011 - 11:23AM

    How about some truth for a change? The world’s trust on Pakistan’s words is at an all-time low already. It has been a string of lies one after another.

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  • buttjee
    Oct 6, 2011 - 12:04PM

    @Cautious:
    It is not in Pakistan’s national interest to go into North Waziristan as demanded by US. It is a trap and we should be wise enough to stay away. After Pakistan’s action against Taliban in Bajur and South Waziristan, the NATO foces allowed the Taliban to escape into Afghanistan and they have never taken any action against their safe heavens in Afghanistan.Today, right under the US and NATO presence in the area these Taliban are launching deadly attacks against Pakistani border posts and border villages. Any military action by Pakistan against North Waziristan will produce the same results and these Taliban will be provided safe heavens in Afghanistan and become anti Pakistan tools in the hands of RAW and Afghanistan’s DNS.

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