Pakistan, US at odds over definition

Published: October 30, 2010
Islamabad identifies certain groups for negotiations, including the Haqqani network but the US does not agree.

Islamabad identifies certain groups for negotiations, including the Haqqani network but the US does not agree.

ISLAMABAD: Behind-the-scene efforts to seek peace with insurgents fighting Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan have made little or no progress because of differences between Pakistan and the US over the definition of ‘reconcilable’ Taliban.

The Express Tribune has learnt that Islamabad, as part of the reconciliation efforts to find an end to the years of bloodshed in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, has identified certain groups for negotiations. One such group is North Waziristan-based al Qaeda-inspired Haqqani network.

But the US does not agree. “This is the real contentious point. Pakistan believes the Haqqani network is reconcilable but the US certainly does not think that is the case,” a senior American diplomat told The Express Tribune.

Requesting not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, the diplomat questioned the wisdom of Pakistan over considering a group reconcilable, which has strong links with al Qaeda.

Led by aging Jalauddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group has strongholds in Afghanistan’s Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces. But, it has also foot soldiers in several parts of the war-ravaged country to fight the US-led Nato forces. And that is the reason the Obama administration has been pressing Pakistan to eliminate ‘safe heavens’ of the group from the tribal areas.

But, Pakistan’s policymakers think differently.

“The US policy is really confusing at this stage. They want reconciliation yet they ask Pakistan to target groups who can be helpful for a political settlement,” remarked a military official. “We have been telling the Americans that don’t alienate all elements of the Afghan Taliban by using force against them,” said the official, who requested not to be identified.

He said Pakistan does not believe that launching an offensive against the Haqqani network at this stage will be in the ‘national interest.’

“The Haqqani network has to play a major role in any future political settlement of Afghanistan,” he added. And this is why, Pakistan is very careful about going after them, he maintained.

A senior foreign ministry official talks more candidly. “We do not consider the Afghan Taliban as Pakistan’s enemies. They never threaten us, they are our assets,” was the blunt response of the official when asked to share Islamabad’s perspective on the Afghan Taliban.

US officials say this confirms their fear that Pakistan has a ‘hands-off’ approach towards certain groups. “Pakistan has nurtured groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba as their assets and now the same militant organisations are haunting you,” said a senior US diplomat. “Gen Patreaus and Gen Kayani have been discussing these issues regularly,” he said.

He said the Obama administration is in favour of reconciliation but not with groups identified by Pakistan.

“It is a known fact that the Haqqani network is closely-linked with al Qaeda and this is a disqualification,” he said.

Former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand said Pakistan would have to pay “a heavy price” if it goes after the Haqqani network.

“If Pakistan, for the sake of $2 billion in US aid, goes after the Haqqani network, it will have to face (serious) consequences over the next 50 years,” warned Mohmand, who is part of the Pakistan-Afghanistan jirga and considered to be linked with the military establishment.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Sarfraz Hussain Naqvi
    Oct 30, 2010 - 11:23AM

    USA seems to be determined to remain bogged down in AFGHAN quagmire! This is what is the desire of former USSR and her ally INDIA. Remember it is the only way to bleed USA both literally and metaphorically and TAKE REVENGE of Russian defeat caused through Pakistan. Latter is also paying a very heavy cost both in men and material caused by INDIAN trained and FINANCED terror groups operating in Tribal Territory and elsewhere in Pakistan.

  • amjad irfan
    Oct 30, 2010 - 12:42PM

    there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ taliban! taliban by definition are regressive,misogynistic,self righteous barbarians who want to live in the 7th century.Why does our govt. want to take us back to primitive times?? these islamic fanatics have destroyed Jinnah’s vision of pakistan.

    why don’t our tv channels discuss the harm caused by the literal application of religous edicts in today’s world??? we’ve lost thousands of our ppl but the anchors blame “shiddat pasands” never the real ppl that is the religous fundoos.why not islamic shiddat pasands?? after all these ppl quote verses from the koran when they kill thousands of cilvilians,they scream “allah akbar” when they blow themselves up,they don’t quote from the constitution or the bible or gita.Why doesn’t our public call a spade a spade?? living in denial has caused our current rotten state of affairs.Recommend

  • mohsin masood
    Oct 30, 2010 - 12:53PM

    us pakistanis love to live like ostriches with their heads in the sand,always in denial,not willing to take on anyone with a beard for the misogyny,bigotry & hate that these mullahs spread in the mosques & madrassas.

    why hasn’t the public demanded that the govt. launch a crackdown on these madrassas which churn out hate filled,intolerant,women suppressing cave men?? those of the madrassas students who don’t blow themselves up are just as damaging to society as their values,attitued & beliefs are a poison which they spread through their loudspeakers & they inculcate the same intolerance
    & bigotry in their children.Recommend

  • ADE
    Oct 30, 2010 - 12:53PM

    Its quite clear what their agenda is – clean of the mess in Afghanistan and move to PakistanRecommend

  • Oct 30, 2010 - 1:14PM

    American policy makers are from civilian setup who have short terM objectives. They talk about strategies based on long lasting effects but intruth they only covet more votes in their next elections which is always few years away. History will reveal that. Aamerican politicians took their nation to war not to win it, instead they wanted scared american voters to stamp on their parties logo and bring them back in power. They used lies and deciet
    to forge a misperception about threat eminating from Iraq and Afghanistan.
    History will also reveal that American military was against such plans. However the hunger for power and unprecidented Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Oct 30, 2010 - 6:31PM

    If we want to move forward then action must be taken against those who want to force their will through the barrel of a gun/sward. We are now living in a civilized world and the time of Swords, bows and arrows are gone. Will of the people of any country must be given top priority without shedding even a drop of blood. All types of hidden agendas from any side must now drop for the sake of people who have nothing to do with these agendas. People need peace at any cost (this is for all countries).Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 31, 2010 - 9:35PM

    If Pakistan has not learned that there are no good or bad Taliban then it hasn’t learned anything from History. All the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan hate the Taliban, especially countries like Iran.

    Strategic depth is a slow strategic death for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talha
    Nov 3, 2010 - 11:59PM

    There ARE good and bad taliban, right now Pakistan army is fighting with so called taliban at north waziristan who are INDIAN financed and trained as they are attacking innocent civilian including holy places. As far as good taliban are concerned, these are Haqqani Network and mulla Umer group which are mostly at South waziristan they havent carried out a single attack in Pakistani remittance or against Pakistan, they are only fight against Americans in Afghanistan, thats why America is pressurizing Pak Army to take action against them. But Pakistan know who are the friends and who are the traitors and agents. Long Live Pakistan And Long Live PAK ARMY.Recommend

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