Ernst Stavro Sirajuddin Blofeld Haqqani is now running SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), renamed in Afghanistan as the Haqqani Network.
All the troubles of the US and its allies stem from this reincarnation of SPECTRE. The only entity that can take care of this shadowy organisation is Pakistan. The capacity of this organisation to trouble America is exclusively owed to its ability to retire to North Waziristan after striking inside Afghanistan, sometime as deep as in Kabul. Its members seem to be able to fly in and out of Afghanistan, undetected, despite the presence there of US, Nato and Isaf troops.
It’s the only entity that is hampering the US from neatening up Afghanistan. Get rid of the Network and Afghanistan will be fine — the government will work, the Taliban will vanish, corruption will end, pluralism will flourish, democracy will take root, Afghan society will enter the 21st century, America will be safe and everyone will live happily ever after.
Am I being reductive? Please read the long report by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point which argues that the most “underappreciated dimension” of the Haqqani network is its “global character” and the “central role it has played in the evolution of al-Qa’ida and the global jihadi movement”. Read also the report about the meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar ,where the “first and last thing” on the agenda was the Haqqani Network and the September 13 Kabul attack.
The fact is that the Afghanistan problem is not just about the Haqqani Network. Afghanistan has multiple problems, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the Haqqanis. Even if the Haqqani Network were entirely taken out, Afghanistan would remain largely the same. In fact, if the only stumbling block between an Afghanistan gone bad and an idyllic Afghanistan were the Network, Afghanistan would have been a piece of cake, not the wicked problem it has become.
Secondly, if the insurgency in Afghanistan was only run by the Haqqanis, JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) would not be conducting thousands of night operations for the last year-and-half across all of Afghanistan, operations that are terribly unpopular.
Thirdly, if use of force was the only answer to Afghanistan’s problems, the US would have, by now, brought it under control. But the use of force, by itself, is clearly not enough. As Mr Abdullah Abdullah told me in April in Washington, what is missing is the ability of the Afghan government to reach out to its people. It is common knowledge that the Afghan governors cannot even survive in their respective vilayats without striking some kind of deal with the Taliban commanders in the area.
Fourthly, the three spectacular attacks in recent weeks, beginning with the downing of a Chinook carrying a SEAL team, the suicide attack that injured 70 US troops, both in Maydan Wardag, and now the September 13 Kabul attack clearly show that the line of communication of the insurgents cannot stretch back to North Waziristan. All these attacks have happened deep inside the Afghan territory and indicate the steady loss of control of territory by the Afghan government and the foreign troops.
If, for the sake of the argument it is conceded that the Taliban line of communication does extend back to North Waziristan, then the ability of the fighters to go deep in and mount attacks makes an utter mockery of the military and intelligence capabilities of the US and its allies despite the tremendous resources at their disposal.
Fifthly, as should be clear from Sirajuddin Haqqani’s interview to Reuters, his fighters are not based in North Waziristan. It makes eminent sense for him to have relocated to the Loya Paktia given the heightened frequency of the drone attacks in North Waziristan and the fact that the Network controls the three provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika. They are also unlikely to be based either in Dande Darpa Khel in North Waziristan or Zambar in Khost, both locations known to intelligence agencies.
Finally, Siraj’s interview dispels the propaganda that the Haqqani Network is Al Qaeda. Instead, Siraj told Reuters that “we would support whatever solution our shura members suggest for the future of Afghanistan”, a clear reference to the Afghan Taliban leadership. Siraj also said that they rejected previous attempts at talks by the US and the Afghan government because those overtures were aimed at “creating divisions” among the Taliban. It is therefore misleading to suggest that the Haqqanis operate outside the overall strategic objectives of the Taliban.
Siraj’s interview and signalling is in line with Mullah Omar’s Eidul Fitr message, which dealt with three basic points: the Afghanistan-specific focus of the Taliban; their readiness to negotiate meaningfully, and a warning to the neighbours to desist from interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. Another important motif running through that message was Taliban’s an inclusive approach to governance. In that, this year’s Eid message is very different from the one Mullah Omar delivered last year which rejected negotiations and called for the trial of President Hamid Karzai and his political coterie.
A few quick points need to be made. The US has come round to talking to the Taliban despite some opposition to this dialogue both in Washington and Kabul. Most leading Afghan experts around the world think this is the only way forward, especially — and this is crucial — if the Taliban accept that they cannot rule Afghanistan to the exclusion of other entities. There are clear indications, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman confirmed it to some of us at a recent SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) meeting in Lahore, that they understand and appreciate this. Given this, and given rising opposition by the Afghans, including officials, to the use of force by the US in Afghanistan, Washington should fast track this dialogue instead of asking Pakistan to open another front for itself by going into North Waziristan. The dialogue is where Pakistan needs to play a positive role because that is where its interests must converge with that of the US.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman also backed my argument that any policy needs to make a clear distinction between the Afghan Taliban and the TTP and its affiliates. The time to go into North Waziristan would be after the US-Taliban talks have reached an advanced level. That would help Pakistan greatly in dealing a blow to the TTP network.
For all the right reasons the US and Pakistan need to cooperate rather than getting into a game of brinkmanship.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2011.
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@Naeem Ahmad: Okay, you gave your name as Naeem Ahmad, but how does it prove that you are really Naeem Ahmad, or that you are not Indian or Afghani, American or Pakistani liberal apologist, or if it does prove, what consequence it has for the merit of what you say? Mr Ejaz Haider publicly writes for both print and digital versions of a public domain newspaper. Rest of us are web based commentator with no public face (unlike Mr Haider), and anonymity is one of the choices given to us by web based forums. You seem to be so anxious about our identity, but away from the web in real life, you probably (may be I am wrong) may happen to have no qualms about women's burqa (the gender analogue of web anonymity).
So please stop muddling with other people's choices, and simply say whatever opinion you have related to the topic.
@khan. If the Americans are so capable of knowing where the Haqqanis and their fighters are why can't they intercept them on their way in before they attack any tarhets or on their way out when they are retreating after committing an attack. Remeber any door can be bolted from both sides why don't they do it on their side not letting anyone enter Afghamistan from Pakistani side and if they can't how do they expect Pakistan to do that. Obviously people who write comments under pseudo names trying to hide their identities should have the courage to be open before commenting on any one's writing who at least writes under his own name. So show some courage and come out with your real identities whether you are Indians or Afghanis, Americans or Pakistani liberal apologists.
Well well well we have hope. Ejaz, you have at least made me proud. There are people amongst us who can think. Thanks fro getting me out of that abysmal feeling.
When US was closing the shop in Vietnam and retreating Loas and Combodia were blamed and bombed for arming the Viet Kongs.Same scaniro is repeated in Afghan theater by accusing and blaming Pakistan for supporting Haqqani network. What Us really need is a safe and honorable exit from Afghanistan. There is an old saying that you may conquor the land but you can never conquor the people.Afghans have a culture of resistence. Best option for the westren world is to rebuild Afghanistan and bring it back to civilized world where Afghan people can also dream about their future and destiny.
It was good discussing issues with Ejaz Haider in yesterday;s Shahidnama. I do not think that the slurs are justified by any manner. Ejaz has talked sense. I would add that NATO, ISAF and US have suffered more casualties in areas not controlled by Haqqanis.
America and their henchmen in media and govt. continue to look for a scapegoats to mask their defeat in Afghanistan. Not its Haqqani's turn. More lies, threats to Pakistan will continue. But in the end the reality is that America has lost this war. Its economy is sinking. Its own corporations have found other markets to make money. So in the end Afghanistan has once again caused the downfall of another superpower and empire. And soon a new power will emerge to fill the vacancy.
@Balma You said it what i was trying in background meaning well don god bless u.
In view of the fact that Haqqani Network may not be the sole reasons of humiliating defeat of the mightiest armies, it is beyond comprehension that USA is pressuring Pakistan into launching an attack on the so-called sanctuaries of the Network in NWA. This is particularly disturbing in view of the circumstantial evidence (ability of the Network to operate deep into Afghan capital) that the sanctuaries may have been relocated to somewhere in Afghanistan. Is this pressure a sincere effort to salvage Afghanistan situation for the US? For the sake of argument, if we concede that the Network is indeed hiding in NWA and Pakistan Army’s operation will weaken their ability to attack US interests in Afghanistan, will this give some sort of face saving to the retreating NATO forces? What should be the priority of Pakistan’s security establishment? To attack and eliminate the elements of TTP and al Qaeda attacking Pakistan or further thin out its resources to fight those who are a threat to NATO forces? This is where interests of Pakistan and USA do not converge and they will have to find a middle ground to come to an understanding. The circumstances point to the fact that the problem exists within Afghanistan and should be sorted out by NATO and Afghan National Army. The only way-forward to peace in Afghanistan is purely home-grown initiative keeping in view the demographic realities. Any proposal based on any other consideration will complicate the matters further and push Afghanistan into a never-ending chaos and anarchy.
The fact is that the Afghanistan problem is not just about the Haqqani Network. Afghanistan has multiple problems, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the Haqqanis.
Spot on.A large part of the problems come also from Quetta Shura and a friendly neighbouring agency supporting both the Haqqanis and the Shura.
Fifthly, as should be clear from Sirajuddin Haqqani’s interview to Reuters, his fighters are not based in North Waziristan.
Yes,yes and we know from the interviews of an ex-president of Pakistan that OBL was dead or at least not in Pakistan.
It makes eminent sense for him to have relocated to the Loya Paktia given the heightened frequency of the drone attacks in North Waziristan and the fact that the Network controls the three provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika.
And whatever happened to the Kurram project? Did the Parchinaris get bumped off for no reason?
The time to go into North Waziristan would be after the US-Taliban talks have reached an advanced level.
If the friendly assets have left the NWA why not hit the TTP now. It will send the right message to the not so friendly forces in Afghanistan as well. Or is there something more than meets the eye.
very informative and a realistic analysis ''What an !dea G ''
There is no difference in the agenda of both Afghan Taliban and TTP. I had a discussion with few Afghan Pashtuns and they told me that there is hardly any difference in the activities of both the groups. They kill and terrorise so its not in the interest of Pakistan to support proxy across the borders. Pakistan is a poor country, it cannot afford to support any kind of limited or full scale conflicts anywhere. On the other hand America has its own agenda, blaming Pakistan for supporting Haqqani's is just to shift the blame, cause it has failed to bring peace even after ten years of war. Ejaz Haider has not explained some thing different, at least everyone on both sides of the border understands the consequences well. Its now up to the US to change its strategy from AFPAK to AFUS and take the people of Afghanistan (Pashtuns) into confidence. I think there is no need talking or wasting time on Taliban.
With the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani whoever amongst the extremists was behind the killing has brought the peace process to a complete halt. It matters little whether the killer was from the Haqqani group or from the mainstream Taleban because the killer reportedly had a meeting scheduled with Rabbani on the premise that he was representing some Taleban group and was definately a Pashtun.
This killing brings the situation in Aghanistan to the era of the early nineties when the cleavage between the ethnic groups had sparked a civil war. The Pashtuns maybe 40 or 42 % of Afghanistan's population, but in essence the Taleban representing Pashtun interests want a gauranteed dominant place as Afghanistan's rulers. The balance of power between the rest of the ethnic groups vis a vis the Taleban/ Pashtun power projection will reopen old wounds and the reigniting of tthe civil war will be gauranteed to prolong the agony of Afghanistan and the war will definately continue to spill over into Pakistan.
From here on the only outcome that is a far gone conclusion is the partition of Southern Afghanistan from the Northern/ Western part of today's current Afghanistan.
I don't think the Americans believe that defeating Haqqanis will end the trouble in Afghanistan. They emphasize it ow because of Kabul attack. I do think they know HQN and others have long enjoyed shelter and sanctuary in the border area protected by Constabulary. Why does Army not go and fight Haqqani there?
The only solution to Afghan issue lies with the Afghans, as long as US, Pakistan, India, Iran and others continue meddle with Afghanistan, there wont be any durable peace. Everybody should understand one thing, Taliban are afghans, while the US and NATO are invaders. Today or tomorrow, US will have to leave Afghanistan and Taliban will come back. It is better to start the process now and make it as much inclusive as possible. Haqani Network has shown its strength. No solution is possible without their inclusion. It is better to try and take them on board or be prepared for perpetual attacks on Afghan cities and forces.
I think lot of readers have missed Ejaz's point that real problem in Afghanistan is ineptness and corruption of the government. And uncle SAM despite 120 billions dollar aid to Afghan government cant make it practice good governance. Therefore, they are looking are convenient scape goats such as Pakistan to dump everything on her.
The author suggests that this is a game of brinkmanship. I believe the time for such things has long past. Brinkmanship is generally engaged to persuade the other to yield and advantage. This state of events looks more and more as though US were building a case to invade Pakistan or seriously curtail the 'establishment'.
Intentionally Muddled thinking driven towards supporting Pakistan's Mil/ISI views:
Why should Pakistan continue to provide support in terms of safe haven,arms, ammunition , training and money to the Haqqani Group.
.So what if the Haqqani Group results in american/nato deaths...its actually in america's interest!!!
US has stated many times that Peace Talks with Taliban can succeed only after degrading their military power. Hence the need to defang the Haqqani Group and their supporters( Pls note !)
The writer does not deny the fact that the Pakistani Govt is in bed with the Haqqani Group....but suggests a refreshing hypothesis: arming the Haqqani Group is in favor of US ! BLAH! Strange belch post digestion of 20 Bn USD....
What ego! "my argument" that you so espouse is nothing but a permanent excuse to meddle in Afghanistan and make it a client state. Something we abhor when outsiders intervene in our affairs. But well argued on behalf of the military.
Mr.Ejaz Haider is fast losing his tag of an eminent Pakistani journalist. Mr.Haider seems to be holding a brief for the Haqqani network. Yes, Haqqanis are not responsible for all the Afghan violence, but except for Pakistani military, everyone else considers Haqqani network as a terrorist group. The exact location of Haqqani top brass maybe a topic of speculation but there is no doubt that Haqqanis are in the safe custody of the ISI and most probably Mullah Umar may be giving them good company. ISI is surely not going to repeat the Osama fiasco and therefore it will be extremely difficult for the Americans to find the Haqqanis. Mr.Ejaz Haider is happily taking a swipe at the American discomfort but he seems to be totally oblivious to the dangers of supporting the Taliban Frankenstein monster.
Tanoli, Indians and Pakistanis are bayghairats. As Lord McAuley said that with English education, in time Indian people will have indian blood and English thinking....can't remember the exact statement. He said this about 150/175 years ago. Hashar sub kay saamnay hae. The two most bayghairat and shameless people are Indians and Pakistanis.
@Amir: Has anyone of them ever heard about — or tried — independent thinking and analysis? I guess not!
Nobody including yourself goes through this process. Human beings have their own opinions on various matters and only agree to their dearly held beliefs expressed by others. PREJUDICE is the most powerful tool to manufacture and mold history. It is both stimulating and intriguing to be humans; we are aware of our existance, we create problems only to be entangled and then argue about solutions. Pakistanis should forget about American problems and their weaknesses, and concentrate on overcoming own hurdles.
I think this is a very well argued opinion piece by Ejaz Haider. It establishes that the US military and the CIA are essentially scapegoating Pakistan for all of their failures and those of their Afghan allies.
"They should get out as soon as possible. Or they'll be picked off like clay pigeons in target practice." These words of warning to America were attributed by the NPR radio to former Soviet Afghan war veteran, Lt. Sergei Maximov, on the 20th anniversary of the humiliating defeat of the Soviet empire over twenty years ago.
On February 15, 1989, the last Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan, nine years after they swept into the country. The Soviet action involved more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers and resulted in large numbers of killed and wounded both among them and among the Afghan population.
Remembering the fateful war that brought down the Soviet Union, another war veteran, former sergeant Boris Raisky, chimed in, "I realized we were fighting a counterinsurgency against local partisans. By definition, that's an unwinnable war."
I think it's time for the Americans to learn from the experience of the Soviets, and the Brits before them, and find a way to quickly exit Afghanistan.
Ejaz Sahib, thanks for an incisive article. I agree with Amir's characterization of this article:
Absolutely brilliant and very well argued! However, this write-up is not likely to go down well with many of Pakistan’s self-loathing “liberals” who have made up their mind that their country is responsible for all the troubles in the world. Until recently, many of these “strategic analysts” were praising Ejaz Haider for writing An Open Letter to General Pasha. Now they believe that the above article is ISPR-sponsored! Has anyone of them ever heard about — or tried — independent thinking and analysis? I guess not.
It seems that the strategic depth is a code name for operation land grab for more plots for defense colony and if it turns out that the land grab is equivalent to the one that was lost in the East Pakistan (read Bangladesh) than it is redemption for the lost honor. Who cares if in the mean time Brand name Pakistan is biting the dust. Has foreign policy elite taught that Americans are capable of out of the box thinking (as demonstrated in the case of OBL). Pakistan elite club members should give their thought to this scenario. Americans suddenly become friends with Iranian and start using Chabahar port in Iran rather than Karachi Port to ships goods to Afghanistan. Bomb the hell out of (read like carpet bombing of Baghdad) Islamabad and ask Iranian Revolutionary guard to get rid of non state actors in Afghanistan. Start imagining scenarios for future of state of Pakistan. Please, do not under estimate US might as rest of the world will be with her as they have no sympathy or interest in saving brand name Pakistan. If it disappeared from the map of the world mark my world there will be celebrations all over the world for “Good ridden”. Probably it is also one way to revive American economy by plugging a drain. There is a small window of opportunity for Official State Actors to smarten up. No head of state, no head of major corporations, no cricket or other sport team wants to come to Pakistan. Ask yourself a question, why? What are you waiting for?
I have seen one thing common in india pakistan they both follow very well gora language its kind of impressed from chity skin....
Ejaz: the US has never said that the Haqqani network is the only problem plaguing Afghanistan. They've said that the network presents the largest threat to stability in Af, tho undoubtedly it is one of many threats. Also, your statement that Af would be the same if the Haqqani network is eliminated is patently false - how can the situation be the same if one of the most prominent actors is eliminated?
The US's concern is the free reign that the Haqqani network receives from the ISI and the Pakistani state. They're asking for action against the network from Pak because while the US strategy of targeting mid/high-level militant leaders has been effective against other groups, the Haqqani network's leadership stay in safe havens in Pak, while their low-level operatives go into Af.
Falling back to an argument of good (Afghan) and bad (TTP) Taliban, is old Paki strategy that just proves that Pak is an unreliable ally. If you can only name Fazlu among supporters of your argument at SAFMA, you've already lost credibility.
Absolutely brilliant and very well argued!
However, this write-up is not likely to go down well with many of Pakistan's self-loathing "liberals" who have made up their mind that their country is responsible for all the troubles in the world.
Until recently, many of these "strategic analysts" were praising Ejaz Haider for writing An Open Letter to General Pasha. Now they believe that the above article is ISPR-sponsored!
Has anyone of them ever heard about -- or tried -- independent thinking and analysis? I guess not!
Mr Haider, You cite an excellent source for your claim. Siraj Haqqani, who else? If he says so, we have no option but to believe him, right? But question is, why you or Siraj Haqqani did not make any such claim just a year ago? Even if Haqqanis are no longer based in Miramshah or its outskirts, it is because the policy of protecting them over last decade has just started bearing fruits, and Haqqanis have finally carved a space for themselves in their native Khost, sufficient to not need any sanctuaries in Pak. You and Haqqani mentors really have been very impressive.
But price has been paid by us: ordinary Afghans and Pakistanis, who have been slaughtered by various Arab, Uzbeck, Ughuyr, Chechen, Punjabi, Pakhtun terrorist allies of Haqqanis, and we are still living under dire threat of terror attacks.
Ejaz Sahib, bad timing or flawed hypothesis? Burhanudin Rabbani's murder (suicide attack) by Taliban while negotiating with the Taliban, what say ye? There is no negotiating with these barbarians, period!
If you have gotten the inane comments out of the way, perhaps some sort of rational and factual rebuttal of the author's arguments would be in order, if it is not too much of a burden on you ...
Mr Haider is a member of foreign policy elite, which recently wrote in its report that newly formed "Afghan National Army" is a threat to Pakistan's interests.
So there lies the problem. Pakistan is at home with Haqqanis, but feels threatened from a permanent professional army. Why we refuse to accept that Afghanistan needs stable institutions, and not hundreds of anarchist terror outfits.
I can clearly see that a repeat of nineties is just waiting in corner, and a new Gulbadin HikmatYar is going to be unleashed on Kabul in order to fulfil the "friendly" regime dream of our establishment. What we Pakistanis are going to get again are more safe havens for sectarian and other terrorists, killers of thousands of our military and civilian people.
Mr Haider, you infuriate me by being dishonest towards your readers.
Excellent account on Afghanistan's problems that may not go away. The spoof act too was nice. What question you need to answer is should the country play host to Afghan terrorists who are killing Afghans and if so why ? Are they not partners to the TTP who are killing innocent Pakistani's and finding shelter with these same people across the border. When the whole World is trying to control the levels of violence in the Afpak region by committing men and money, should an ally and victim of terrorism be indulging in such actions. Let your conscience answer those questions when you are playing with your kid, because many hundreds of parents have lost their innocent kids to these monsters.
Thanks for fleshing out our official narrative. These must be the talking points used by Hina Rabbani Khar and other in FO.
Your argument seems to be in agreement with those of notorious rightists and conspiracy theorists like Hamid Gul, Zahid Hamid and the people of their ilk.
Pakistan seems to have two strategists: Hameed Gull and Ejaz Haider. No wonder we are where we are.
Now even facts are part of "the establishment".
Good article. American military & civilian leaders both are lying to their gullible public when they say they are winning in Afghanistan. Pakistan is their whipping boy as usual.
Ejaz is eager to trust Sirajuddin. And great news! He and Maulana Diesel have the same vision about Afghanistan. If Ejaz has his way, Af-Pak is in for truly interesting times.
@SaudiRules: You are a smart guy ----- Ejaz Haider gives voice to our thoughts (whenever we think) ---- ISPR appreciates his services and rewards it appropriately!
Where does Haqqani network get the weapons, and associated supplies. American's supplying them to blame and destabilize Pakistan?
TTP and Taliban are different? No wonder PAK is in trouble. As long as various alphabet soup organizations inside and outside of PAK and Afganistan are united in same ideology they are one and the same.
The Taliban in Afghanistan would be pushovers if Pakistan was not shortsightedly arming and funding them Mr. Haidar. There is no such thing as Pakistani Taliban or Afghan Taliban as you would like people to believe. They are both the same.Its all the same Gulf Arab funded Pashtun-Deobandi-Wahhabi-ISI nexus. They all get their funds from the same kitty and follow the same simplistic puritan religious 'philosophy'
And remember, trying to arm twist those stronger and smarter then you results in embarrassment, or has Pakistan learned nothing from the Raymond Davis- Osama Bin Landen affair?
Oh btw, with the assasination of Burhanuddin Rabbani by the Taliban now one will doubt that they are working towards a negotiated peace now would they?
What do the Haqqanis have on the Pakistani state that they are vaciferously defended by everyone. They seem untoucable and above the law, both protected and nurtured. Now if only the rest of the country could also enjoy such privledges.
While the US focuses on the Haqqanis, we have squarely placed all our problems on Americas door. Are the Haqqanis not a non-state entity, brandishing weapons and infringing on the sovereignty of the Paksitani state? Are the Pakistani citizens of North Waziristan not worthy of the Pakistani states protection? If all is rosy in North Waziristan and the Haqqanis merry, then why exactly are 26000 or is it 33000, Pakistani troops deployed in North Waziristan.
However, when you have to state that Maulana Fazlur Rehman also backed my argument, well that doesnt say much now does it?
"Fifthly, as should be clear from Sirajuddin Haqqani’s interview to Reuters, his fighters are not based in North Waziristan." Excellent point! Who could doubt Sirajuddin Haqqani's word! It is nice to see that you are basing the "truthiness" of your argument on words of outstanding, god fearing pious men like Sirajuddin Haqqani! Next stop, Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul.
I am really impressed by the efficiency of ISPR. That was quick reply to US accusations.