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Pakistan denies supporting the Haqqani Network. Pakistani officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Imtiaz Gul, who heads the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, said Pakistan’s military and the ISI are making “conscious efforts to redefine their relationship with the Haqqani Network” since the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2. The al Qaeda leader was killed in a Navy SEALs raid on his hide-out in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, about 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan itself has refrained from direct attacks on the network, but has never objected to raids on the Haqqani clan,” Mr. Gul said.

Mohammed Haqqani, a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was killed in a drone strike last year.

Western officials are counting on an improvement in the security situation to justify the start of a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan next month. President Obama is expected to announce the pace of that withdrawal in coming days.

Talking to the Taliban

The Obama administration has stepped up its efforts to contact the Taliban’s senior leadership, including the group’s one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, in a bid to secure peace in Afghanistan.

In 2001, the United States toppled the Taliban, which once imposed brutal methods to rule Afghanistan, because it continued to shelter bin Laden after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Paul Pillar, a CIA veteran who served as national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, said the Haqqani Network is “one of the toughest problems there is with regard to reconciliation with anyone in Afghanistan.”

“It is hard to see how the Haqqanis would become part of any reconciliation process in Afghanistan unless they were strongly pushed by the Pakistanis and the nature of that relationship changed substantially,” he added.

“A major Pakistani role will be necessary if there is going to be any set of deals in Afghanistan that will not be upset by the Haqqanis.”

The U.S. has ratcheted up its efforts against the Haqqanis, with increased Predator drone strikes and financial sanctions.

“David Petraeus has made no secret of his campaign against the Haqqanis,” said the Western diplomat. Army Gen. Petraeus is the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin Haqqani gained notoriety as a fearsome commander of the mujahedeen that fought the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the 1980s. During that period, he received funds and weapons from U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services.

Charlie Wilson, the late Texas Democrat who helped send millions of dollars to the Afghan resistance while serving in Congress, once described Jalaluddin Haqqani as “goodness personified.”

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