Decoding a blast

The timing and location of the latest attack in Kabul may be significant. The dots can be joined to the Haqqani Network

Written by Ram Madhav | Updated: June 2, 2017 8:29 am
Kabul blast, Afghanistan blast, Kabul explosion, Haqqani, Haqqani network, Aghanistan explosion, kabul news, world news The timing and location of the attack are significant. The blast took place merely a few yards from the German embassy in Kabul, injuring several staff members of the embassy and killing the lone Afghan security guard at the gate. Illustration: Subrata Dhar

Exactly a decade after 9/11, on September 11, 2011, a truck pulled up next to the US military base in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan. Within minutes, there was a huge detonation and the truck turned into a fireball. The explosives stored in the tanker truck had ripped apart the entire wall of the US base and caused grievous injuries to dozens of US soldiers. Later in the month, Admiral Michael “Mike” Mullen, the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his four decade-long career’s last deposition before a Congressional panel in Washington DC, in which he bluntly said, “The Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency”.

When a similar truck bomb ripped through the main diplomatic square in Kabul on Wednesday, killing around 90 people and injuring several hundreds, suspicion naturally turned to the Haqqani network.

In fact, the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), has directly accused the Haqqani network for the dastardly act that came just days into the Muslim religious month of Ramadan.

The timing and location of the attack are significant. The blast took place merely a few yards from the German embassy in Kabul, injuring several staff members of the embassy and killing the lone Afghan security guard at the gate. It happened at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was issuing a stern statement jointly with his German counterpart Angela Merkel, vowing to take “strong measures” against those who encourage, support and finance terrorism. Describing terrorism as the single biggest problem facing future generations, Modi promised that “both our countries will work together to tackle this problem together and cyber security and intelligence sharing is a very important aspect of this cooperation”.

In recent years, Europe has seen several terrorist incidents, from Paris to Manchester. European countries have been participating in the NATO forces in Afghanistan. Germany itself has around 1,000 soldiers handling various security responsibilities in Afghanistan. In such a scenario, it is not possible to completely dismiss the timing of the latest Kabul attack as a mere coincidence.

The Kabul attack is one of the worst attacks in the last many years. It is not the first though, nor might it be, however much we all may wish, the last. Pakistan has issued its ritualistic condemnation. President Mamnoon Hussain, in his speech to the Pakistan Parliament, condemned Wednesday’s extremist attack, saying that the people and the government of Pakistan will continue to support all efforts aimed at ensuring peace in Afghanistan. However, one need not be in any doubt about the Pakistani sponsorship of the dreaded Haqqani network. The saga of the Haqqani network is mired in such secrecy that no one really knows who its leader is.

Founded by the Pashtun warlord, Jalaluddin Haqqani, the group came into prominence during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It is believed that the CIA had a hand in the rise, if not creation, of this terrorist group. After the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan, Haqqani became a henchman of the Taliban on the one hand, and the Pakistani ISI on the other. He came to the lawless lands of North Waziristan and set up his headquarters at Miranshah, spreading his sprawling criminal empire across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Sometime in 2015, the BBC reported, based on inputs from sources, that Jalaluddin Haqqani had died at least a year ago. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a hardcore Taliban commander, is said to be the present head of the network. But nobody has any doubt that the real force behind the network is none other than the ISI.

When Mike Mullen gave his categorical statement accusing Pakistan of sponsoring the Haqqani Network, he had his own inputs. One of them came from the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen. The movement of suspicious trucks across the Pak-Afghan border was noticed by the US army and brought to the attention of Pakistan’s then-Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Allen was rudely shaken when Kayani told him that he would “make a phone call” to prevent any disaster. Allen, for sure, realised that the Haqqani network was just a “phone call away” from the Pakistan army.

In fact, it was reported that American spy agencies have intercepts of a telephone call made sometime in 2008, in which General Kayani was heard referring to the Haqqani network as a “strategic asset”. The unending bloodbath in Afghanistan is singularly the handiwork of the ISI through its proxies like the Haqqani network.

When will it end? To understand that, we have to know about another warlord from the same region. “He lived and died like a true Pashtun,” reads the sign on a mud grave at Shakai in South Waziristan. The man resting in the mud grave is Nek Muhammad, a leader of the Afghan Taliban, who subsequently became unquestioned leader of the tribesmen in Pakistan’s Waziristan tribal belt. He would rise in prominence and brutality to a level which forced General Parvez Musharraf to buy truce with him.

However, this truce was short-lived. At some point, the ISI and the CIA had come to an agreement under which the ISI agreed to provide necessary intelligence to the Predator drones. Finally, in mid-June 2004, a Predator succeeded in firing a missile accurately into the compound where Nek Muhammad was staying, killing him instantly. Would Pakistan do the same to the Haqqani network or continue to use it as a “strategic asset”, is the question.

The writer is national general secretary, BJP, and director, India Foundation

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  1. V
    Vikram
    Jun 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm
    Interesting thesis
    Reply
    1. R
      raj
      Jun 5, 2017 at 10:16 pm
      What this is blubbering? No common sense...
      Reply
      1. M
        Matt
        Jun 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm
        Phooey. Indian sponsored terrorists killed 4 innocent protesting Afghans.
        Reply
        1. G
          George Cruz
          Jun 3, 2017 at 6:31 am
          One thing is sure Ram Madhava is a great BJP strategist who can solve once for all the b ers created by the Muslim leaders like Nehru/Abdullah like creation of the article 370 to gobble Kashmir exclusively for Muslims. The congress party, the NC in J&K never tried to silence these Kashmir separatist terrorists for Muslim vote bank and as result many of the brave Indian soldiers have sacrificed their lives defending Kashmir. The more the anti-national elements demonize the BJP and the patriotic Hindu organization like the RSS/Hindutva, more popular they get and set the stage for BJP's victory in the left oriented states like Kerala and W. Bengal.
          Reply
          1. L
            lafanga
            Jun 3, 2017 at 6:27 am
            Nice touch RAW and NDS. You guys timed the blast and location of it perfectly just when Modi was crying about terrorism in Berlin. Claps.
            Reply
            1. L
              lafanga
              Jun 3, 2017 at 6:22 am
              According to this c h u t y a Pa-kistan is responsible even when Modi suffers from a serious case of constipation hahaha. The only beneficiaries of this blast are RAW and NDS which is why both are accusing Pa-kistan even when no group claimed any responsibility. In fact Taliban denied although they happily take responsibility within minutes of such blast. Where was Afghan security that a huge tanker full of explosives can so easily waltz thru most secure area in Kabul? RAW and NDS fingerprints all over this one. They both want continuous chaos in Afghanistan so they can blame Pa-kistan.
              Reply
              1. R
                Rz
                Jun 3, 2017 at 3:52 am
                What an .This man is talking about terrorism which is happening in other countries and not in his own country ( because in his own country it is done by his organisation RSS and cow vigilante group)
                Reply
                1. R
                  Ramanathan
                  Jun 3, 2017 at 2:20 am
                  Ram Madav deserves to be beaten by slipper for the article. Even an illiterate Modi Bhakt has better idea about geopolitics. Look how criminally clever are Dash, Sivakumar, George Cruz are.
                  Reply
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