From chorus to crescendo: ‘Ties with Haqqanis’ threaten civilian aid

Published: September 21, 2011
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We covered ... the need for the Haqqani network to disengage, specifically the need for the ISI to disconnect from Haqqanis and from this proxy war that they’re fighting
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff 
Admiral Mike Mullen

We covered ... the need for the Haqqani network to disengage, specifically the need for the ISI to disconnect from Haqqanis and from this proxy war that they’re fighting Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

[The Haqqanis] are no longer on this side of the border ... we will take immediate action if we receive intelligence reports of their presence
Interior Minister 
Rehman Malik Those who carried out the bombing in Wardak are part of the Haqqani network ... they enjoy safe havens in North Waziristan
US Ambassador to Afghanistan 
Ryan Crocker. There is evidence linking the Haqqani network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop
US Ambassador to Pakistan 
Cameron Munter. We cannot have the Haqqanis coming across the border, attacking our forces … and then disappearing back into a safe haven. That is not tolerable
Defence Secretary 
Leon Panetta. We covered ... the need for the Haqqani network to disengage, specifically the need for the ISI to disconnect from Haqqanis and from this proxy war that they’re fighting
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff 
Admiral Mike Mullen Rehman Malik and Robert Muller, speaking to the media after the meeting. PHOTO: NNI
ISLAMABAD: 

The chirrup has grown to a clamour, now threatening the most civil aspects of an otherwise rocky relationship.

A warning conveyed recently to Islamabad said US assistance to Pakistan under the Kerry-Luger-Berman Act may become a casualty of the ongoing row between the two countries regarding the Haqqani network.

The $7.5 billion non-military assistance was approved by the US Congress in 2009 in an attempt by the Obama administration to demonstrate its long-term commitment to Pakistan. However, the 20-hour long assault on the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13 may prove to be a “game-changer and compel the administration in Washington to review ties with Pakistan”, said an American diplomat on condition of anonymity.

US officials said the audacious attack was carried out by militants from the Haqqani network, allegedly based in North Waziristan.

Since then, one senior American official after another has hammered Pakistan to come clean on its alleged ties with the Afghan insurgent group which has launched some of the most daring attacks on US forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Resentment in the US Congress

The diplomat told The Express Tribune that resentment against Pakistan, for its lack of commitment to eliminate the Haqqani network, is growing in the US Congress.

“Many congressmen are now asking why we are spending American taxpayers’ money on Pakistan,” he added.

“If Pakistan fails to take decisive the US Congress may even go to the extent of blocking the assistance.”

The $7.5 billion aid over a period of five years is conditional to annual certification by the Secretary of State to the US Congress.

One such condition includes Pakistan’s progress to eliminate ‘terrorist safe havens’ from the tribal belt. However, another American official said, though the situation was tense, it was premature to conclude that this could even lead to a halt in civilian assistance to Pakistan.

Intelligence chiefs meet

The threat to cut back civilian aid comes amid mounting pressure on Pakistan, evidenced by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s unpublicised trip to Washington on Tuesday to meet with his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) counterpart David Petraeus.

(Read: Pasha meets Petraeus in Washington to discuss Haqqani network)

First reported by the Washington Post, the CIA officially declined to comment on whether the meeting had taken place. However, according to sources, General Pasha met with Petraeus, CIA officials and senior White House officials at Ambassador Husain Haqqani’s residence in Washington.

The Haqqani network was the focus of discussions, the Washington Post reported. This was the third high-level meeting within a week between the intelligence chiefs to discuss the Haqqani network and its presence in Pakistan.

Rehman Malik’s denial

Amidst the clamour, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik denied categorically the presence of Haqqani network on Pakistani soil while talking to journalists after his meeting with FBI chief Robert Mueller here on Wednesday.

“[Pakistan] will take immediate action against the Haqqani network if we receive intelligence reports of their presence in Pakistan,” Malik said.

The interior minister said he told the FBI chief that Haqqanis were a product of the Afghan war in which Pakistan was a partner.

“They were sons of the soil,” the minister said, adding that, “they are no longer on this side of the border.”

The FBI chief said they discussed matters of bilateral relations, extradition and exchange of information on terrorists and means to further enhance cooperation in the on-going war on terror.

Malik, however, added that the Haqqani network also came under discussion and the FBI director was told that the network was not present in Pakistan. It is odd for an FBI chief, whose mandate includes homeland security and investigations into crimes committed on the US soil, to discuss matters of regional security with the Pakistani interior minister.

Earlier, on Saturday, the group’s leader Sirajuddin Haqqani had said the group feels “more secure in Afghanistan.”

(Read: ‘No sanctuaries in Pakistan’ – Haqqani network shifts base to Afghanistan)

In a rare telephone interview from an undisclosed location, Sirajuddin told Reuters that the group no longer hides “in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.”

Khar-Clinton meeting

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in a three-and-a-half-hour-meeting in New York this week that Pakistan was quickly losing support in the Congress, a government official familiar with the discussions said.

Despite the veiled US threat, the official said Pakistan did not make any “specific commitment” to go after the most feared Afghan insurgent group.

The foreign ministry spokesperson, when approached, referred to the statement of Foreign Minister Khar in which she “underscored the fact that the relationship was not aid-dependent”.

She would not offer further comments but her brief response appears to reflect Pakistan’s attempt to downplay the strong position the US has taken against the Haqqani network.

On Tuesday, US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen openly accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of using the Haqqani network to wage a “proxy war”.

Separately, The Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that in what amounts to an ultimatum, administration officials have indicated that “the US will act unilaterally if Pakistan does not comply.”

(Read: At the UN – US insists Pakistan get tough on Haqqanis)

However, Pakistani officials were quick to reject the assertion saying no such ultimatum or warning was given.

They even rejected American claims that the Haqqani network issue remained the first and last item on the agenda of a recent meeting between Clinton and Khar.

According to the foreign ministry spokesperson, Khar stressed that “the responsibility of effectively countering terrorism must be shared by all”.

“Areas that harbour terrorists on the other side of the border from where attacks are launched on Pakistani men, women and children must be dealt with proactively,” said Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua while quoting Khar telling Clinton.

(With additional input by Huma Imtiaz in Washington and Umer Nangiana in Islamabad)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Pundit
    Sep 21, 2011 - 9:41PM

    what r u eating? apples or bananas?Recommend

  • TightDhoti
    Sep 21, 2011 - 9:42PM

    Haqqanis are sons of the soil? And the rest of the Pakistani nation are adopted?

    Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Sep 21, 2011 - 9:57PM

    Count on Mr. Rehman Malik to come up with a new one. What I do not understand is this: the US bombs anything that moves with a drone in FATA. So if the Haqqani network in is North Waziristan and Pakistan does not want to attack who/what is stopping the US from using drones ? am I missing something?

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Sep 21, 2011 - 9:58PM

    Haqannis are strategic assets. The rest, 160 million, are strategic liabilities who demand electricity, roads, healthcare , education. Just think, would US give billions if there was no Bin Laden, No Taleban and Haqanni ? Please think strategically as nothing is more important than strategic assets and strategic holes.

    Recommend

  • Sep 21, 2011 - 10:02PM

    Who Haqqanies? Which is the ambassador in USA?
    They are the product of Afgan war with the Soviet Union and you all are suffered from by them. Plz think that today’s Afghan war with NETO also produces much dangerous Haqqaneis.
    Recommend

  • Chengez Kengez K
    Sep 21, 2011 - 10:13PM

    @TightDhoti:

    meaning sons of soil of Afghanistan.

    After all Haqqanis were welcomed in White house as equivalent of founding fathers of America

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Sep 21, 2011 - 10:25PM

    How does Mr Malik know if Haqannis are in Pakistan or not ?
    Did Mr Malik not also claim that Laden was not in Pakistan, repeatedly ?
    Has Mr Malik relocated Mr Haqanni and has the new address ? If so, when was Mr Haqanni in PAkistan and when did he relocate ? Dis Mr Malik pay the relocation expenses ?
    Is it not a great tragedy according to what Mr Malik is saying that a ‘son of the soil’ like Haqanni , has to leave the soil ?

    Recommend

  • John B
    Sep 21, 2011 - 10:36PM

    I remember reading similar statements from PAK before Abbotabad.

    From the fever of all the meetings it is likely that the US knows more than the Haqqani network location. I suspect either an unilateral action of US or joint US-PAK actions on Haqqani network inside PAK in the near future.

    Both of these actions will be unpopular in PAK in some segment of population, and PAK army is trying to avoid actions against her “sons of the soil”.

    PAK is in a squeeze and it is likely more of Haqqani network connection with PAK ISI will be made public in coming months.

    Recommend

  • waqas
    Sep 21, 2011 - 10:48PM

    well we are not interested in there ancestors,there actions are very effective

    Recommend

  • V
    Sep 21, 2011 - 10:50PM

    Can someone tell me how can this guy continue to be the interior minister of Pakistan for so long?

    I mean the Pakistani security condition is in a complete mess. He gives comment after the other, and yet it surprises me that no one – yes no one ever asks for his removal.

    Is there no better politician left in PakistanRecommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:02PM

    @V:
    Its, what the Pak call Democrasy !!!!
    The man is complete waste of time !!!

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:12PM

    There are sons of the soil, called strategic assets, and then there are liabilities of the soil, more than 160 million, who demand electricity, water, food, roads, education etc.

    Recommend

  • Zain
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:15PM

    Sons of our soil? And he’s actually reminding the world of that fact? Don’t we have enough home grown problems already?

    Recommend

  • Sep 21, 2011 - 11:18PM

    ban the facebook it will fix the haqqanis

    Recommend

  • amjad
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:20PM

    pakistan is playing an extremely dangerous game,nobody believes u after OBL.i would not be surprised if we see american boots or b-2’s above north waziristan by this year’s end.and trust me there’s a difference between targetted drone strikes and carpet bombings.

    Recommend

  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:35PM

    The Americans see our proxies only. I ask them whose proxies are the Karzais, the Malikis, the Mubaraks, the Hussains of Jordon and all the rest?

    Recommend

  • mariam.b
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:35PM

    Its not how you play the game , its how the game plays you

    Recommend

  • ops
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:38PM

    Game is on!

    Recommend

  • Rabbani
    Sep 22, 2011 - 12:06AM

    to the people who question

    “Haqqanis are sons of the soil? And the rest of the Pakistani nation are adopted? ”

    no
    it means that the pakistani citizens pakistan is being asked to murder are the same people who wuold be the first to be the ones to come forwards to protect and give up their lifes in the defence of Pakistan!!!!

    understand???????????Recommend

  • biryani
    Sep 22, 2011 - 12:31AM

    interestingly Mullen in his press conference said…. i talked in 4 hour long meeting with general haqqani and we agreed bla bla………

    haha

    Recommend

  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 22, 2011 - 1:09AM

    Guess what, we have seen this earlier.Typical shameless Pakistan. I doubt if they themselves expect people to believe this. But they are going to continue like this. This time things are surely going to get nasty. Watch out.

    Recommend

  • G. Din
    Sep 22, 2011 - 1:30AM

    @Maulana Diesel:
    “what is stopping the US from using drones ? am I missing something?”
    No, you are not missing anything. This is the dance necessary before the final act. So, show some patience. Drones are coming to Pakistan!

    @V:
    “Can someone tell me how can this guy continue to be the interior minister of Pakistan for so long? “
    It is Parkinson’s Law in action. When mediocrity takes over the top echelons, every lower echelon has, per this Law, to be dumber and dumber even though there may be smarter people available!

    Recommend

  • jaffar
    Sep 22, 2011 - 1:43AM

    imran is the NLY choice

    Recommend

  • Imran Hussain
    Sep 22, 2011 - 2:21AM

    I think you are right Rehman Malik. Haqqanis are sons of this soil and you and your government is sponsoring their network in Pakistan. The military and civilian junta of Pakistan have been using terror groups like Haqqani network, Lashkr-e-Taiba & Jaish-e-Muhammad to fight the proxy wars in this region and what the common Pakistani is getting from all this drama. You are trying to conquer the region by using Haqqani network and other terror groups but unfortunately the establishment of Pakistan has never tried to win the hearts and minds of their own people.
    What about the people who played an important and vital role in the creation of Pakistan and sacrificed everything for this country and you are still not accepting them as son of this soil.
    Recommend

  • Nasreen Deol
    Sep 22, 2011 - 4:20AM

    The American are flexing their muscle as Pakistanis crawl in fear. The truth of the matter is that from India we see Pakistan as a dangerous board game as various characters are allowed to roam the country and carry out their terror plans in plane sight of its people who are brainwashed by crazy political and conspiracy ideas fed daily by their (M & M) Military & Media. If the citizen are not foolishly blaming India then they are think we Indians are causing the chaos and thus allowing the trouble makers to create havoc in the meantime the others have thrown their hands up in the air and pray for God’s intervention meanwhile as the daily terror spreads from city to city.
    America is the only power that is making Pakistan forcibly look at the problem and act and even though the general population speak against this and protest in rants the military and hierarchy are making trips and so are Americans sending over to Pakistan strong signals and Pakistan being so weak because if its own doing has NO CHOICE!

    Recommend

  • Farheen Rizvi
    Sep 22, 2011 - 6:08AM

    Whether they are son of this soil or came from another soil, if they are living in Pakistan without obeying the laws of pakistan then they are criminals and they have to pay the price. There are so many banned out fits in Pakistan who were invovled in terrorism and criminal activites but they are operating freely as LeJ which is always called banned outfit but from collecting donations to free movement of their leadership is happening easily in Pakistan. No wonder why Pakistan is paying such a heavy price today by rasing these type of Sons of SOIL.

    Recommend

  • BruteForce
    Sep 22, 2011 - 8:04AM

    You guys have no idea how serious this is, have you! Washington is moving all its supplies to the Northern Distribution Network. Why do you think you dont hear the Taliban burning down one of the NATO supply tankers?

    When this happens and the process complete, US will gain unlimited leverage over Pakistan.

    Either Pakistan has to go after the Haqqanis or face Aid cut. Remember, US still controls IMF and WB. An Aid-cut means Pakistan cannot even take loans. Thats the immediate impact.

    Later on the US will blame everything that happened in Afghanistan on Pakistan and label it a “Terrorist-supporting Country”. That will be followed by the Sanctions. The US Government sanction is equivalent to a World-wide sanction. Remember US still extends influence over Japan, EU, Australia and India will be happy to oblige.
    Recommend

  • Tariq Shah
    Sep 22, 2011 - 8:16AM

    Truth is and even the US knows this, they have no evidence the Haq’s are in Pakistan, this BS is being fed to the Americans daily by the Northern Alliance Afghans and their Indian friends.

    It has worked to create a rift between Pakistan and the US and is helping the Taliban who are attacking both the Americans and the Pakistanis.

    Instead of constantly pressing Pakistan to eliminate the Haqs, if the US really know where they are, why not give evidence…. give evidence to the press, I am sure they know where the Haqs are since the Americans speak with so much morality on the issue?

    Or is Pakistan a convenient scrapegoat to hide US failures? How is Pakistan responsible for what goes on miles inside Afghanistan? If the US cannot handle the heat, then they should get out of Afghanistan, but please stop blaming us for your failures.
    Recommend

  • shadi
    Sep 22, 2011 - 8:35AM

    Perhaps the cancelation of aid isnt such a bad idea, how many of it is actually being used appropriately in the first place : / .

    LETS BE REALLY HONEST, THIS CANCELATION OF AID WILL NOT AFFECT A POOR MANS LIFE, THEY WILL STILL LIVE THE SAME WAY

    People in sind punjab and other places are drowning, Pakistans alliance with America has been nothing but a bad experience since 9/11. Iran, turkey, lebanon, china or brazil didn’t need american aid and they seem to be doing fine.

    Its time pakistanis grow a pair and a start standing up on their own. Recommend

  • Pundit
    Sep 22, 2011 - 8:57AM

    why has the Paki President, the PM, the FM, the Army Chief the ISI chief not made any public statement about the american accusation
    Even the opposition parties are silent.

    Itsnot everyday that the Ambassador of the sole superpower accuses the Paki Govt of complicity with the terrorists on paki Radio!
    Recommend

  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Sep 22, 2011 - 9:09AM

    Do not be cowed down by this threat of loosing support in the Congress or elsewhere. The jackals threaten and if you stand up they run away. Just follow national interest and our national interest is the to be friends with our neighbours – and not with the US proxies in our backyard.

    Imperialism has followed this strategy through the history but they fail in the end in the face of national resisitance.

    Recommend

  • John B
    Sep 22, 2011 - 9:30AM

    @BruteForce:
    Spot on. Aid cut, with serious conditions, is already on its way.

    Recommend

  • syed imran
    Sep 22, 2011 - 9:51AM

    All the fence sitters commenting against Pakistan must realize that what the US is demanding is nothing but a blackmail and forcing Pakistan in a venture,the backlash of which will be scores of suicide bombings in almost all the urban centres and this is what the enemies of Pakistan are waiting to see.

    Recommend

  • Observer
    Sep 22, 2011 - 9:58AM

    @Tariq Shah:

    “Instead of constantly pressing Pakistan to eliminate the Haqs, if the US really know where they are, why not give evidence…. give evidence to the press, I am sure they know where the Haqs are since the Americans speak with so much morality on the issue?”

    That is exactly what the Pakistani establishment had been saying for 10 years regarding bin Laden. Guess what happened!

    Recommend

  • nelta john
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:03AM

    It is high time Pakistan show American it can do without its aid. This is the only way America will stop dictating to and humiliating Pakistan. America in running brokes, it can no longer offer the huge aid packages.

    Recommend

  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:09AM

    @biryani: That is telling of how much the word ” Haqqani ” occupies their mind right now. No doubt Pakistan is under pressure.

    Recommend

  • gfffffffffff
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:15AM

    who will hide in pak after osama killed

    haqaaanis is in afghanistan.

    Recommend

  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 22, 2011 - 10:56AM

    @Tariq Shah:
    I am so surprised that you still do not understand the real game here. US and Pakistan both are nuclear powers. So are their respective allies India and china. That is why proxies are so important here. There will be no declaration of war but proxies will fight as they are right now. US has started pouring money to destabilize Pakistan. It is raising its own proxies in AF-Pak. Pakistan simply doesn’t have the resources to match US on this. In this tangle Haqqani is just a beating stick. If Haqqani is over something else will become the beating stick. The bottomline is Pakistan will eventually have to fall in line with the US. There can be no strategy to win or even to fight on in this war for Pakistan unless they choose to end up being like Afghanistan. Pakistan must only concentrate on formulating a retreat strategy which it is not doing and that is the real unanswered question. As Pakistan avoid action thereby turning the showdown potentially into an existential crisis there will be increasing speculation that Pakistan wants to take this fight to the nuclear threshold to prevail. That is the real concern.

    Recommend

  • Straight_Talk
    Sep 22, 2011 - 11:29AM

    @syed imran:
    Who would not like to be a fence sitter here? Who would like to be in the hell that Pakistan is today? Pakistan chose to be inside the fence in the 80’s. They could have opted out. India opted out on US offer to land troops in Afghanistan after 9/11. China opted out of Af-Pak by rebuffing Pakistani coercion to declare a naval base in Gwadar. Even Iran opted out of the Af-Pak inspite of being so anti-US. Russia doesn’t want to enter either. Only Pakistan went in. We the fence sitters understand you are angry but your problem is not us but your leadership. They are still not ready to relent even when Pakistan is only in the news for failures and disasters. Recommend

  • Sani
    Sep 22, 2011 - 11:35AM

    America should quit giving aid to Pakistan. Pakistanis are fed up of their empty threats.

    Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Sep 22, 2011 - 1:01PM

    Salam. 65 billion dollars lost by pakistan in 10 years war against terror. Investment worth 150 billion dollars lost in 10 year. 35 thousands human being killed in war against terror. Thousands school destroyed. How much civilian aid given to pakistan?? Remember that operation haqqani will kill thousand soldiers and people with many suicide attack and united state will send few million dollars and their soldiers will be then attending club parties in afghanistan and our soldiers will be martyring. United states will make permanent bases in afghanistan. Its better that haqqani and american kill each others. When united state flee afghanistan then we should challenge haqqani network if they not ready to obey our orders.Recommend

  • Khan
    Sep 22, 2011 - 4:14PM

    So if GoP is incompetent to get rid of these savages and US is willing to do any thing to get rid of Haqqanis then Why on earth they have not used drones against them??

    How come US has not hit Jalaludding Haqani or Siraj uddin Haqqani in their hundreds of attacks? or because they want to use this as leverage for pushing Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • PHAJJA
    Sep 23, 2011 - 11:49AM

    As far as the US and Haq. are concerned, I will ask everybody one simple question.: Should not be a SuperPower;’s Army of 150,000 being ten years in Afghanistan, should not be in control by now? If 5000 Haq’nis can threat the whole army then I have my serious doubt that ” To Kaya Cholay baichne aye thay ithar? That’s so rediculous. It reminds me of Vietnam. When the Vietnam war was Lost. US had started blaming Laos and Combodia for their own failure. Same is going on here. Actual reason is that They have lost war in Afghanistan because of illegal occupation and tyranny for 10 long years. An ordinary Afghan has come out and resisting against them who they name haqqanis and talibans. It has changed to mass resistance and there is only one way to end that and that is, : Just leave their land or get doomed like Soviets. Afghans are left nothing to lose. Recommend

  • Nasreen Deol (Bangladesh)
    Sep 23, 2011 - 10:46PM

    @PHAJJA you seemed to be easily criticizing the US for ”your version” of failure but you cleverly seem to gloss over why so many terrorist roam your country killing men women and children while you all do nothing to stop the blood bath! Where was Pakistan when the Taliban ruled in terror and kept the country poor and producing poppy to get rich I don’t remember many Pakistanis caring about the Taliban harsh treatment of women.
    The US has every right to be in Afghanistan where Al-Qaeda was situated when US was attacked and the Pakistan allowed these monsters to move freely and then humiliated Pakistan with the capture & death of Osama Bin Laden in the military zone while Pakistanis scrambled not to look like fools I think the Afghans have a lot lose.having Pakistan as a neighbor!
    People who live in terror filled glass houses should not throw stones!

    Recommend

  • Tariq Shah
    Sep 24, 2011 - 6:22AM

    The Americans want Pakistan to do their dirty work, they want Pakistan to sacrifice more soldiers as a proxy army, but Pakistan has to live with these people for a long time after Americans have left.

    If America knows where they are, let them drop rockets in them with drones, who is stopping them from doing so daily?

    Recommend

  • islooboy
    Sep 24, 2011 - 9:34AM

    yes aid cut means no freaking 4 billion to waziristan no more dead soldiersRecommend

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