Top US Commander seeks to blacklist Haqqani
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 17:31
Washington: New top US commander in Afghanistan is pushing hard to get Haqqani network listed as terrorist organisation, a move that could be a setback to Pakistan military which is striving to involve the group in Afghan reconciliation.

General David H Patraeus took up the issue with President Barack Obama's top aides on Afghanistan and Pakistan late last week, New York Times reported quoting US officials who said "it was being seriously considered".

The American general's warning to curb the Haqqani faction, which has reportedly upto 2,000 heavily armed fighters, comes amidst rising calls in US for action against the group.

Voicing concern that Pakistan is not taking enough action against the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, two top US Senators have warned Islamabad that any future terror attack against America or Europe that can be traced back to that country would invite "very serious" consequences.

Fresh from their visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed demanded that the Haqqani network as also the Pakistani Taliban should be declared as foreign terrorists.

Such a move, New York Times said, could risk antagonising Pakistan, a critical US partner in the war efforts in Afghanistan.

It said it could also frustrate Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is pressing to reconcile with all the insurgent groups as a way to end the nine-year-old war and consolidate his own grip on power.

From its base in the frontier area near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani is suspected of running much of the insurgency around Kabul and across eastern Afghanistan, carrying out car bombings and kidnappings, including spectacular attacks on American military installations.

It is allied with al Qaeda and with leaders of the Afghan Taliban branch under Mullah Muhammad Omar, now based near Quetta, Pakistan.

But the group's real power may lie in its deep connections to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which analysts say sees the Haqqani network as a way to exercise its own leverage in Afghanistan.

Pakistani military leaders have recently offered to broker talks between Karzai and the network, officials said, arguing that it could be a viable future partner, the paper said.

US officials remain extremely sceptical that the Haqqani network's senior leaders could ever be reconciled with the Afghan government, although they say perhaps some midlevel commanders and foot soldiers could.

The idea of putting the Haqqani network on a blacklist was first made public yesterday by Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who has just returned from Pakistan and Afghanistan.


First Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 17:31

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