Pak Army trying to get Haqqanis postwar Afghan setup
Pakistan Army is trying to exploit the troubled US military efforts in Afghanistan to sew up a deal with Afghan President.
New York: Pakistan Army is trying to
exploit the troubled US military efforts in Afghanistan to sew
up a deal with Afghan President to incorporate Haqqani network
in the war-ravaged nation`s postwar setup.
Army Chief General Parvez Ashfaq Kayani and his spy
chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha are shuttling between Islamabad
and Kabul to broker a deal with Hamid Karzai to incorporate
Pakistan ISI longtime asset Haqqani network in a future deal
on the war-torn nation.
The Pakistani generals are telling Karzai that they
agree with his assessment that the US cannot win in
Afghanistan and a postwar setup in the country should include
the Haqqanis - who have given protection to Al Qaeda
leadership for almost nine years now, New York Times reported
today quoting highly placed Afghan and Pakistani officials.
The Haqqani network has long been Pakistan`s crucial
anti-India asset and has remained virtually untouched by
Pakistani forces in their redoubt inside Pakistan, in the
tribal areas on the Afghan border, even as the Americans have
pressed Pakistan for an offensive against it.
The Americans have long suspicion that the Pakistani
were holding the Haqqanis in reserve for such a moment, as a
lever to shape the outcome of war in its favour.
This scenario is being watched with nervousness in
Washington as it would give Islamabad important influence in
Kabul, but undermine US interest, the paper said.
The dismissal of Gen Stanley A McChrystal will almost
certainly embolden the Pakistanis in their plan as they detect
increasing American uncertainty, Pakistani officials said.
The Pakistani Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani,
preferred General McChrystal to his successor, Gen David H
Petraeus, whom he considers more of a politician than a
military strategist, said people who had spoken recently with
Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable
partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, who has
soured on the Americans. Pakistani officials say they can
deliver the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an ally of al Qaeda
who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan, into a
In addition, Afghan officials say, the Pakistanis are
pushing various other proxies, with General Kayani personally
offering to broker a deal with the Taliban leadership.
In a sign of shift of momentum, the two Pakistani
generals are scheduled to fly to Kabul on Monday, as part of
efforts to deliver the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an ally
of al Qaeda into a power sharing arrangement.
General Petraeus told Congress last week that Haqqani
fighters were responsible for recent major attacks in Kabul
and the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, adding that he had
informed General Kayani.
Some officials in the Obama administration have not
ruled out incorporating the Haqqani network in an Afghan
settlement, though they stress that President Obama`s policy
calls for al Qaeda to be separated from the network. American
officials are skeptical that that can be accomplished.
Richard C Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s
special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said on a visit to
Islamabad last weekend that it was "hard to imagine" the
Haqqani network in an Afghan arrangement, but added, "Who
At a briefing this week at the headquarters of
Pakistan`s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence,
Pakistani analysts laid out a view of the war that dovetailed
neatly with the doubts expressed by Karzai. They depicted a
stark picture of an American military campaign in Afghanistan
"that will not succeed."
They said the Taliban were gaining strength. Despite
the impending arrival of new American troops, they concluded
the "security situation would become more dangerous,"
resulting in an erosion of the American will to fight.
"That is the reason why Karzai is trying to negotiate
now," a senior analyst said.
General Pasha, the head of the intelligence agency,
dashed to Kabul on the eve of Karzai`s visit to Washington in
May, an American official said. Neither Karzai nor the
Pakistanis mentioned to the Americans about incorporating the
Haqqanis in a postwar Afghanistan, the official said.
Pakistan has already won what it sees as an important
concession in Kabul, the resignations this month of the
intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, and the interior minister,
The two officials, favoured by Washington, were viewed
by Pakistan as major obstacles to its vision of hard-core
Taliban fighters` being part of an Afghanistan settlement,
though the circumstances of their resignations did not suggest
any connection to Pakistan.
Coupled with their strategic interests, the Pakistanis
say they have chosen this juncture to open talks with Karzai
because, even before the controversy over General McChrystal,
they sensed uncertainty ? "a lack of fire in the belly," said
one Pakistani within the Obama administration over the
"The American timetable for getting out makes it
easier for Pakistan to play a more visible role," said Maj Gen
Athar Abbas, the spokesman for the Pakistani Army. He was
referring to the July 2011 date set by Obama for the start of
the withdrawal of some American combat troops.
The offer by Pakistan to make the Haqqanis part of the
solution in Afghanistan has now been adopted as basic
Pakistani policy, said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of
international relations at Islamabad University, and a
confidant of top military generals.
"The establishment thinks that without getting Haqqani
on board, efforts to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan
will be doomed," Hussain said.
"Haqqani has a large fighting force, and by co-opting
him into a power-sharing arrangement a lot of bloodshed can be
The recent trips by General Kayani and General Pasha
to Kabul were an "effort to make this happen," he said.
Afghan officials said General Kayani had offered to
broker a deal with the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad
Omar, and had sent envoys to Kabul from another insurgent
leader and longtime Pakistani ally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, with
the offer of a 15-point peace plan in March, the paper said.
As for the Haqqanis, whose fighters stretch across
eastern Afghanistan all the way to Kabul, they are prepared to
break with al Qaeda, Pakistani intelligence and military
The Taliban, including the Haqqani group, are ready to
"do a deal" over al Qaeda, a senior Pakistani official close
to the Pakistani Army said. The Haqqanis could tell al Qaeda
to move elsewhere because it had been given nine years of
protection since 9/11, the official said.
But this official acknowledged that the Haqqanis and
al Qaeda were too "thick" with each other for a separation to
happen. They had provided each other with fighters, money and
other resources over a long period of time, he said.
Also, there appeared to be no idea where the Qaeda
forces would go, and no answer to whether the Haqqanis would
hand over Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman
al-Zawahri, the official said.
The Haqqanis may be playing their own game with their
hosts, the Pakistanis, Hussain said.
"Many believe that Haqqanis` willingness to cut its
links with al Qaeda is a tactical move which is aimed at
thwarting the impending military action by the Pakistani Army
in North Waziristan," he said.