ISLAMABAD: Top US and Pakistani military leadership stuck to their opposing stances on how to handle the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, making no headway in bringing both sides to a common ground.
Isaf chief in Afghanistan Gen David Patraeus in a meeting with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani here on Wednesday renewed Washington’s demand for a full scale military offensive against the al Qaeda inspired Haqqani network, said military and diplomatic sources.
Patraeus told Gen Kayani that an operation against militants in North Waziristan is vital for achieving success against insurgents fighting Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Led by an aging Jalaludin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group has strong presence in eastern Afghanistan. It also has foot soldiers in several parts of the country to fight US-led Nato troops. Described as “as an epicentre of al Qaeda,” the Obama administration has been pressing Pakistan for months to eliminate the Haqqani network from its tribal belt.
A senior Pakistan military official said Gen Kayani ruled out going after the group in North Waziristan at this stage. “At some stage, we will have to carryout targeted and limited operation in the North Waziristan but there are no immediate plans,” said the official, who requested not to be named.
The two sides also have divergent views on the role of Haqqani network in any future political settlement in Afghanistan. Pakistan believes the group will certainly have a key role while the Americans think otherwise.
An Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) statement said very little about what transpired between Gen Kayani and Gen Patraeus. “The visiting dignitary remained with him for some time and discussed matters of professional interest,” said a short statement.
However, Foreign office spokesperson Abdul Basit tried to dispel the impression that Pakistan was under any US pressure to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan. He insisted that Pakistan will take the decision by assessing its “national priorities.” “It will not take any US dictation,” the spokesperson said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2010.