Haqqani network would consider talks under Taliban

Published: November 13, 2012

Haqqani commander says group would keep up pressure on Western forces with high-profile attacks. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

PESHAWAR: The Haqqani network, seen as the most lethal insurgent faction in Afghanistan, would take part in peace talks with the United States but only under the direction of their Afghan Taliban leaders, a top faction commander said on Tuesday.

The rare flexibility exhibited by an Afghan militant commander was accompanied by a warning that the Haqqanis would keep up pressure on Western forces with high-profile attacks and would pursue their goal of establishing an Islamic state.

The Haqqanis, who operate out of the unruly border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, say they are part of the Afghan Taliban and must act in unison in any peace process.

The commander, who declined to be identified, accused the United States of being insincere in peace efforts and trying to divide the two organisations.

“However, if the central shura, headed by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, decided to hold talks with the United States, we would welcome it,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed, referring to the militants’ leadership council.

The United States designated the Haqqani network a terrorist organization in September, a move its commanders said proved Washington was not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani network may prove to be President Barack Obama’s biggest security challenge as he tries to stabilise Afghanistan before most Nato combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

The group’s experience in guerrilla fighting dating back to the anti-Soviet war in the 1980s and its substantial financial network, could make it the ultimate spoiler of peace efforts, which have made little headway.

The commander said the Haqqani network was pleased about Obama’s re-election, predicting he would be demoralised by battlefield losses and pull out US forces earlier than expected.

“From what we see on the ground, Obama would not wait for 2014 to call back his forces,” said the commander.

“They suffered heavy human and financial losses and are not in a position to suffer more.”

The Taliban said in March they were suspending nascent peace talks with the United States.

A senior Afghan official closely involved with reconciliation efforts said last week the government had failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban and no significant progress was expected before 2014.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Nov 13, 2012 - 12:13PM

    “Of more than a dozen Pakistani security agencies.” With so many intelligence agencies in Pakistan, let six of them work for restoring peace in Karachi, tracking the corruption of the parliamentarians, wipe out the jirgas, co-operative with the police in implementing the law and catch all the corrupt Pakistanis who have left the country with millions of dollars and bring the men and material back to us.
    Or else, merge all of them into one security agency. “Of more than a dozen Pakistani security agencies,” this is terribly expensive. Salams

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  • Nauman Ghauri
    Nov 13, 2012 - 12:39PM

    @N K Ali

    Can You comment on the topic at all?

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  • Go
    Nov 13, 2012 - 5:08PM

    Rare flexibility? this has always been the stance of Haqqani Network so they are no more flexible then they were before.

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  • Cautious
    Nov 13, 2012 - 6:17PM

    The commander said the Haqqani network
    was pleased about Obama’s re-election,
    predicting he would be demoralised by
    battlefield losses and pull out US
    forces earlier than expected.

    Yeah right — guess he doesn’t know that combat fatalities in Afghanistan are lower than the overall suicide rate in the USA military. Major combat losses and poor morale are wishful thinking rather than reality – most of the USA troops are leaving on their schedule and the Haqqani have zero input on when that is going to happen.

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