Pakistan-Haqqani ties threaten to thwart U.S.

Western officials and analysts say U.S. and U.N. pressure is failing to persuade Pakistan to cut its ties to a terrorist network whose attacks coalition forces fear could complicate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network, based in Pakistan’s northwest region, receives financial and logistical support from Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Western officials say.

“The support operation [in Pakistan] for the Haqqanis’ war-fighting is intact,” said a former Western official who spoke on background, citing security concerns.

A report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., found that the Haqqani Network “continues to maintain close operational ties” with the ISI.

“Although the relationship with ISI is not always smooth, it is also unlikely the Haqqanis would survive if the Pakistani state turned against them,” the report says.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September 2011, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the Haqqani Network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

The network has been linked to several deadly attacks on U.S., Afghan and foreign targets in Afghanistan. In September 2011, its fighters attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO offices in Kabul after penetrating multiple layers of security in the Afghan capital.

The U.S. and the United Nations recently stepped up pressure on the network by targeting its financial assets.

The Obama administration in September designated the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization, making it illegal for U.S. citizens to provide material support or resources to the group’s members and freezing the group’s assets that are under U.S. jurisdiction.

In November, the U.N. Security Council's Taliban sanctions committee took similar action, which compelled all U.N. member states, including Pakistan, to cut ties to the Haqqani Network.

The U.S. and U.N. actions are the first financial pressure applied to the terrorist group.

“The network has been under a lot of tactical pressure, but we have not seen them come under any financial pressure and that’s what these designations could do to them,” said Gretchen Peters, author of the Combating Terrorism Center report.

But, she added, “a designation is like an arrest warrant; it is meaningless unless somebody actually goes out to make an arrest.”

A father-son network

Jeffrey Dressler, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who closely studies the Haqqani Network, said the U.N. action is especially significant because it opens diplomatic channels with Persian Gulf countries where the network’s financial activities are based.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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