Islamabad: Even as the administration of President Barack Obama is engaged in a war of words with Pakistan over acting against the deadly Haqqani network, reports, Wednesday, claimed that its founder Jalaluddin Haqqani was once a key ally of the US government.
Reports quoted Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Mallik saying, “The network’s aging leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a respected commander and key US and Pakistani ally in resisting the Soviet Union after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Haqqani even visited President Ronal Reagan at the White House.”
Mallik even claimed that in 1992, three years after the Soviet withdrawal, Haqqani and others seized power in Afghanistan with US approval. In the 1980s and 1990s, Haqqani also hosted Saudi fighters including Osama bin Laden. That hospitality is believed to have been extended to al Qaida and other foreign fighters on both sides of the border today.
After the Taliban seized power in the mid-1990s, it made Haqqani a government minister. Following the Islamist regime’s ouster he was again offered Cabinet posts – this time by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. But he decided to focus on ridding Afghanistan of Western troops.
Malik also refuted claims that Pakistan’s spy agency ISI was backing the Haqqani network and training its members. Talking to media-persons at a ceremony held to laud the Islamabad police over the recovery of a huge cache of weapons, Mallik said, “CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) of the United States actually created the Haqqani network and those claiming otherwise should give the evidence of its presence in Pakistan.”
“We will fight the terrorists as our forces are capable of handling them and countering any challenge,” the minister was quoted as saying.
Mallik also stated Pakistan’s seriousness in combating terrorism is evident from its action against militants in SWAT and other troubled areas, which shows that the law enforcement agencies were making sincere efforts to root out the menace of terrorism.
He said that the nation was confident of the capabilities of Pakistan Army, government leadership and its strength as Pakistanis.
The alliance between Pakistan and the United States in the 10-year war in Afghanistan and against al Qaeda hit rock bottom this year in the wake of the unilateral American raid
that killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad on May 2.
The US administration then asked the Pakistani government to clamp down on the Haqqani network, which is responsible for attacks on the US embassy in Kabul and on ISAF as well as some others.