Did Pakistan Let Haqqani Network Slip Away on Purpose? (Official Says “No”)
Posted at 3:57 p.m. on July 24, 2014
Pakistani schoolchildren stand at the spot where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated at an Afghan bakery in the Bhara Kahu area on the outskirts of Islamabad on Nov. 11. AAMIR QURESHI (Aamir Quereshi AFP/Getty Images)
Leaders in Pakistan have declared it of late, both publicly and privately: The country is going after all militants, even the Haqqani network, an organization that U.S. military officials have deemed a de facto arm of the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI.
Some have raised doubts about whether that’s actually happening, though, pointing to evidence that Haqqani network militants have merely shifted elsewhere, with the complicity of Pakistan. A senior Pakistani official insisted Thursday that Pakistan wants the Haqqani network destroyed, but that to a certain degree it’s in the hands of Afghanistan, NATO and the United States.
“I’m a little amused by these remarks,” the official said, speaking with a small group of reporters under condition of anonymity. “For anyone who knows the terrain, 50,000 on an average cross each day 2,600 kilometers of border, unmanned and unmonitored. Here I see with all your technology and resources that you have not been able to secure your border,” the official said, referring to the current influx of undocumented and unaccompanied minors.
“No. 2, for weeks and months it was being debated in Pakistan publicly that if the dialogue process fails the government will go into military operations,” the official continued. “The Haqqani or others were prepared to flee the country. Third, when they were fleeing, what was the the leadership of the U.S. and NATO and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] doing? Did we tell them not to take these people out? In fact, sir, we requested the Americans to help us take them out when they were fleeing and if they were fleeing.”
The official said that Pakistan warned U.S. officials early on, as they were preparing military options, that some militants might flee.
“You have the technology, you have the means, you are sitting across the border, please take them out,” the official said. “Please eliminate them. you’d be doing us and yourselves a great good. Please do not permit these people to disappear. Take them out, eliminate them, capture them. We use the terminology used by many people in the past: There should be a hammer and anvil. the Pakistan hammer saw no evidence of the anvil on the other side.”
It makes no sense, the official said, for Pakistan to risk so many lives and spend so much money just to “let them escape,” and that “militants, whatever hue and color they may be, are a threat to Pakistan.”
Despite the gripes in both directions, over those issues and U.S. drone strikes, “U.S.-Pakistan relations are no longer in the headlines,” and that “pleases us immensely,” the official said. The tensions from 2011 and 2012 are behind the countries and they’re strengthening bilateral relations, the official said.