KABUL: The operational leader of Taliban-allied militant group the Haqqani network denied any recent links between his network and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in an interview with the BBC released on Monday.
Sirajuddin Haqqani also denied that the network killed Afghan peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani
Haqqani said the network, blamed for a string of high-profile recent attacks on Western targets in the Afghan capital Kabul, were not linked to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI.
“We haven’t killed Burhanuddin Rabbani and this has been said many times by the spokespersons of the Islamic Emirate,” he said, referring to the Taliban.
Afghan officials have blamed the Taliban for the September 20 turban bombing that killed Rabbani in Kabul, saying the killer was Pakistani and that it was plotted by the Afghan Taliban’s leadership body, the Quetta Shura, in Pakistan.
However, no Afghan officials have specifically accused the Haqqani network over the killing.
President Hamid Karzai is reviewing his strategy for talking peace with the Taliban in the wake of the killing of Rabbani, who was chairman of the High Peace Council, his spokesman has said.
Haqqani also denied any recent links between his network and the ISI.
He said during the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, mujahedeen fighters “had contacts with the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and other countries, but after the invasion by the Americans, there have never been contacts by intelligence agencies of other countries which could be effective for us.”
The Haqqani network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a warlord who made his name during the 1980s jihad against the Soviets, when he received funding from Pakistan and the CIA.
But his son Sirajuddin now effectively runs the network, which has been blamed for recent attacks including a 19-hour siege in Kabul last month that targeted the US embassy and international military headquarters.
The United States has recently stepped up pressure on Pakistan to tackle Haqqani rear bases on its soil.
The BBC, which posted the comments on its website, said it conducted the interview by submitting written questions to Haqqani, who then recorded an audio response.