Haqqanis will not talk Afghan peace alone: Commander

Published: October 25, 2011

Sirajuddin Haqqani. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Haqqani militant group will not take part individually in any peace talks with the United States and negotiations must be led by the Taliban, a senior commander told Reuters on Tuesday.          

“They (the Americans) would not be able to find a possible solution to the Afghan conflict until and unless they hold talks with the Taliban shura,” said the Haqqani group commander, referring to the Taliban leadership council.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Islamabad with a heavyweight team of U.S. military and intelligence leaders, urged Pakistan to persuade the Haqqanis to pursue peace.

She also warned that tough action would have to be taken against Afghan and Pakistani militants if they did not cooperate in efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

The Haqqani commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, viewed her efforts with scepticism.

“This is not the first time the U.S. has approached us for peace talks. The Americans had made several such attempts for talks which we rejected as we are an integral part of the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammad Omar,” he said by telephone from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

“We are united and our goal is to liberate our homeland Afghanistan from the clutches of occupying forces.”

Clinton said the United States had held preliminary meetings with the Haqqanis — arguably the most dangerous Afghan insurgent faction — and was working with Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to put together a peace process.

Taliban leader Omar has been in hiding since the Taliban were forced from power by U.S.-led forces after refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The Haqqani network is a major source of tension between the United States and Pakistan.

Admiral Mike Mullen said before retiring as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff last month that a militant group that had attacked U.S. targets in Afghanistan was a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan angrily denied the accusation.

After years of demanding Pakistan crack down on the network, named after veteran Afghan militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, the United States wants Pakistan to bring that group and other militants to the peace table.

The battle-hardened Jalaluddin Haqqani is believed to be in poor health and his son, Sirajuddin, is the group’s operational leader.

Across Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces have been unable to deal a decisive blow to Taliban insurgents and their allies like the Haqqanis, blamed for a series of bloody attacks.

The United States is eager to improve security in the region as much as possible by the end of 2014, when all NATO combat troops are due home from Afghanistan.

More than 2,700 NATO troops have been killed since 2001, as well as more than 11,000 civilians. Many thousands more have been wounded.

“We consider that trying to invite individuals or fighting groups for peace talks other than the Taliban shura would be waste of time,” said the Haqqani group commander, referring to Omar and his leadership council.

The Haqqani network, who Washington says are based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, have emerged as U.S. forces’ most high-profile enemy in the region since American special forces killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

It is considered close to both al Qaeda and the Pakistani security establishment, though the group says it operates solely in Afghanistan.

The Taliban will keep fighting through Afghanistan’s winter season, said the Haqqani commander.

Insurgent attacks have tended to fall off in winter as the mountain passes they use to cross from havens in Pakistan become blocked with snow.

But last year, the winter lull was less pronounced than expected.

Reader Comments (29)

  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Oct 25, 2011 - 5:05PM

    Yes, if U.S does not do it the right way, we make sure to steer them to the right path for the peace and that is , they have to talk to Ameer-ul-Momineen Mullah Omar and include the Taliban in the Afghan government , and leave the Afghanistan. This is the best solution possible for peace for all.

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  • Gul Khan
    Oct 25, 2011 - 5:11PM

    Now this is what I call true unity and brotherhood. If forces from US and EU can make alliance for an illegal invasion why not various groups across the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan unite for the sake of getting their country free from foreign invaders.

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  • Roflcopter
    Oct 25, 2011 - 5:24PM

    Why does US continue to differentiate between Haqqanis and Taliban? They’ve already said Mullah Omar is their leader so go talk to him instead of Haqqani. It seems US does not want peace but only seeks to split Taliban from each other in order to weaken them.

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  • MAHER ALI
    Oct 25, 2011 - 5:25PM

    Jeeyo Jawan…

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  • faraz
    Oct 25, 2011 - 6:24PM

    @Gul Khan

    Have you heard of 55 percent non-pushtoon Afghans who were engaged in bitter civil war against the Taliban during the 90s.

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  • Palvash von Hassell
    Oct 25, 2011 - 6:38PM

    The Americans, it seems,will leave no stone unturned in making complete fools of themselves before they are forced to effect an ignominious exit.

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  • Oct 25, 2011 - 7:14PM

    The senior commander has hit the nail on the head. Yes, why should the Americans talk to Haqqani Group who are an organic part of the Taliban? They have accepted Mulla Omar as their leader and are an undivided fighting force that can see no schisms.

    Well, good luck and let us see for once the Americans talking veritably straight. Salams

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  • OhLaLa
    Oct 25, 2011 - 7:34PM

    Just like the Musketeers: All for One One for All!

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  • Gul Khan
    Oct 25, 2011 - 7:40PM

    @Faraz
    I do not know the exact figures whether the non-pashtoon afghans were 55 percent, less or more. However, I would love if they also join Taliban in order to oust Americans who brutally kill innocent Afghans everyday, as American occupation of Afghanistan is not in the favor of either Pashtoon or non-Pashtoons.

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  • Rana Athar Javed
    Oct 25, 2011 - 7:52PM

    Well, this seems a plausible option for our US friends. No need to throw that much burden on Pakistan, except taking her in confidence and seek a framework for peace in Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai may OR may rule for few more years, but, the Afghan people and the Pashtun majority will need to have a cordial and ethnically balanced government. Separating Haqqanis and Taliban may well not be fruitful after all. The best tactic then is to make peace across the board including Haqqanis/Taliban. Cutting out one or the other for the termination purpose would leave a vacuum for worst-type of warlords who instigate violence, rape and drug trafficking. The US must spare Afghan people from such scenario. The region and its people have to live in this along with its neighbour, the US & NATO are just occupiers of Afghanistan’s war hospitality. We hope that a chance is given to Pakistan, in order to comprehend that Pakistani people as one of the most crucial stake holders need to have conducive environment for peace in the region. It can never go against its own interests. Dragging Pakistan into another unilateral action OR leaving out Pakistan) and, sign peace accord in Germany, Dubai and Istanbul could prove detrimental to both US and Pakistan’s National Security interests.

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  • starboy
    Oct 25, 2011 - 8:01PM

    America should talk to the taliban leadership, not to a taliban group to bring peace in afghanistan. Peace in afghanistan will have a huge impact on pakistan as well. So pakistan should also try its best to pressurise taliban for talks with US.

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  • Mirza
    Oct 25, 2011 - 8:03PM

    This exposes all the previous claims that there are good terrorists and there are bad terrorists. Their unity and actions prove that they are one and the same. However, their supporters would still insist that there are good Taliban and good off shoots of terrorists.

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  • John B
    Oct 25, 2011 - 8:21PM

    If these guys really care for Afghanistan and her people, they can stand for elections in their own area and win the approval of the people.

    These guys are feudal war lords and want to control the people, and land for their own self interest. This is how the ancient feudal system operated and in all conflicts involving the war lords, even at present time, it is always the control of territory for self interest.

    These war lords will be in perpetual war with each other, and the strong over overthrowing the weak and him later overthrown by the stronger.

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  • MarkH
    Oct 25, 2011 - 8:49PM

    This just means one requirement for attack has been crossed off the list.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Oct 25, 2011 - 9:37PM

    Haqqanis are tricky customers and now they have come up with the googly of including Talebans for talks as well proves that they would dictate their own terms to the Americans who would find it extremely difficult to negotiate with them. The most important aspect would be the agenda for the talks and I seriously apprehend they would ever agree to rule along with Karzai and Northern alliance.

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  • biryani
    Oct 25, 2011 - 9:42PM

    i am just ashamed to see one thing… what is my country and its role in all this episode…. we spill our blood and make our peace just for the sake of uncle sam…. at least the intelligent we and uncle sam can learn some honor, respect and honesty to our ppl from the barbaric stone aged taliban,Recommend

  • Dallas Ali
    Oct 25, 2011 - 10:53PM

    If this Haqqani network folks are fighting for righteousness why then are they hiding behind a shawl?

    Are these people female?

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  • sam
    Oct 25, 2011 - 11:19PM

    This is again a dirty game of Pakistan to give its assets front seats in any future negotiation to bring pace and stability to Afghanistan.

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  • Babloo
    Oct 26, 2011 - 12:46AM

    Haqannis and Taleban are like a couple and the establishment is the mother-in-law.

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  • It Is Economy Stupid
    Oct 26, 2011 - 12:50AM

    If Haqqanis are not in Pakistan then how come it is a front page news? Why are all these Pakistani’s getting excited about? How come no one said to Haqqanis good ridden? or may be–

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  • Oct 26, 2011 - 1:27AM

    @Dallas Ali:
    Shawl and eye shades is their favourite. Mullah Omar the one eyed Jack is the one who destroyed the Baamiyan Buddhas. We Indians want to ask him a lot of questions. He should have considered them part of the country’s heritage. If he would have passed a taameem that you should not worship them that’s fine. But why destroy a piece of art? The poor Buddha was a Hindu prince before he became a Buddhist. His father King Shuddhodhan did not want him to renounce the world. Already it’s a sad story. And destroying his statue devastated us! Carry on Mullah, you are really brave and a he man!

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  • Asif
    Oct 26, 2011 - 2:24AM

    @faraz

    You clearly do not know much at all about Afghanistan and the 90s. The Taliban were not part of the civil war and chaos, but a response to it. The civil war was raging on between different Anti-Soviet Mujahideen groups. During this time, many civilians were killed and tortured by the different factions. Thus, the Taliban were a direct response to this strife and disorder. they were never part of a civil war but a reaction to it.

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  • Asif
    Oct 26, 2011 - 2:26AM

    @Sam

    Pakistan has no sway over the Afghans. They can tell them to talk, but thats about all. There will only be peace in that region once America withdraws completely.

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  • M.Akthar
    Oct 26, 2011 - 3:28AM

    Haqqani’s & taliban are the arms of our army & this is an open secret! Americans need an exit & will run away! Pakistan will control afghanistan! Next is India & china! When pakistan can face off the soviets & US, what is India & china! Soon the islamic caliphate will be established!Recommend

  • faraz
    Oct 26, 2011 - 6:26AM

    @Gul Khan

    Well the non-pushtoon are part of the Karzai government and approve of US invasion. They were victims of Taliban atrocities, so they sided with British. Such war torn countries cant unify.

    @Asif

    Taliban are rural pushtoon phenomenon which emerged due to chaos in pushtoon areas, NOT the non-pushtoon areas. Pushtoon Mujahideen commanders joined Taliban. But Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Shia Hazara didnt support Taliban rule and fought them for years. The main conflict in the 90s was ethnic in nature.

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  • Asif
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:25AM

    @Faraz

    the atrocities that took place brought about the Taliban. they themselves were not a part of it. A few and very small group of modern/progessive Afghans (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and some Pashtuns) are disgruntled and call living under rurual customs and Islam as mistreatment. Taliban were made up of people drawn from Afghanistans rural Pakhtun areas, and that lifestyle they were promoting is the norm in those areas.

    Taliban is just a name. In reality, this way of living has existed all the way since Mir Wais

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  • Dr.A.K. Tewari
    Oct 26, 2011 - 1:53PM

    It seems to me that peace process in Afghanistan will keep on going till Umar and Haqqani are alive . Now the war is going to be more technological than manual .

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Oct 26, 2011 - 1:59PM

    It seems that this Haqqani commander, “speaking on condition of anonymity” is sending the U.S. on a wild-goose chase, when he hinted, that NO peace talks with the Haqqani network were possible without involving the Quetta Shura. Mullah Omar is in hidding! Hamid Karzai had once said, he would like to extend Mullah Omar an olive branch, yet he didn’t know his address.

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  • Dallas Ali
    Oct 26, 2011 - 9:08PM

    @Dr Priyanka:
    Doc. it is a sad story, I wonder why people cannot see thru them.

    These people have NO education and they seem to get on podium and spew out hate and rather then build they are destroying.

    Time may be ripe for something like French revolution to clean-up such mess..Recommend

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