Game of drones

Pakistan is being pressured by the US and getting squeezed on its eastern and western borders

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Updated: August 5, 2017 12:49 am
pakistan, us drone attack, terrorism in pakistan, united states pakistan relations, haqqani network, pakistan news, indian express news Why was Abu Bakar Haqqani found in Hangu confirming the US charge that Pakistan was sheltering the Haqqani group?

On June 13, a US drone attack in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan killed Abu Bakar Haqqani of the Afghan terrorist Haqqani Network. Since Abu Bakar Haqqani was killed inside the area administered by Pakistan and not in the tribal belt, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has threatened an inter-agency review of his country’s funding and support to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has objected to the drone strikes inside Pakistani territory without a warning. Pakistan denies the presence of the Haqqanis after all kinds of terrorists were supposed to have been driven of the country — including in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan — as a result of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

But why was Abu Bakar Haqqani found in Hangu confirming the US charge that Pakistan was sheltering the Haqqani group? The Haqqani Network was based in North Waziristan agency and should have had nothing to do in a Pakistan-administered district. But the truth is that the Haqqanis have been found in all parts of Pakistan since the founder of the network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, got his early training in the Quran at Madrasa Haqqania near Peshawar.

In February 2016, US drones killed five Haqqani Network terrorists in Hangu taking time off from their depredations in Khost, Paktika and Logar provinces in Afghanistan in addition to the capital, Kabul. In 2013, the drones killed a commander of the network again in Hangu after Pakistan had arrested and released him in 2010 along with other senior members of the infamous Quetta Shura, which is composed of members of the Afghan Taliban. Hangu is developing as a rallying point of the network which is considered the real mover and shaker of the Afghan Taliban — an outfit that today controls more than half of the Afghan provinces.

Meena Menon — who was reporting from Islamabad for The Hindu in 2013-14 before she was expelled and is the author of the excellent book released this year, Reporting Pakistan — notes that after Nasiruddin Haqqani was killed in 2013 in Islamabad, his funeral was conducted in Miramshah in North Waziristan by the Taliban. Menon writes, “Nasiruddin Haqqani, said to be in his thirties, was the eldest son of Jalaluddin. He was reportedly arrested in 2010 at the behest of the US and was kept in a safe house for interrogation.

The Pakistani Taliban or TTP had alleged that security agencies were behind the killing. He was on the UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions list of individuals whose assets were frozen and against whom there was a travel ban and an arms embargo as well. He was also a fundraiser for the outfit and travelled often to the Middle East.”

Pakistan’s attitude towards the network has been greatly informed by its relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which, together with Saudi Arabia, accounts for the bulk of the foreign remittances from expat Pakistani workers. The Haqqani Network too derives strong financial support from the UAE. The network’s founder’s family has associations with that country, which is why the Taliban in Afghanistan issues strong denials every time the outfit is accused of attacking UAE diplomats in Kabul.

One can understand the Rs 300 million gifted by Imran Khan to the madrasa near Peshawar where Jalaludin Haqqani studied in his youth in light of the fact that many agencies of the tribal area adjacent to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province don’t starve because of the UAE remittances. Also, Jalaluddin Haqqani was reared and nurtured by not only Pakistan but also the Americans and their Arab allies during the anti-Soviet Afghan war.

Jalaluddin Haqqani formed the network in 1995. In 1996, he was appointed minister of tribal affairs, a position he held till 2001 when the US carpet-bombed the Taliban government out of Kabul.

Pakistan fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and became part of the international resistance that Washington and Jeddah generously financed. Not only were the Taliban headed by the Haqqanis, accepted as friends in need but their Arab ally, the al Qaeda establishment, was embraced — its founder Abdullah Yusuf Azzam built International Islamic University of Islamabad with Arab money. The Western world led by the US encouraged the mingling between the Pakistan state and the jihadis in Afghanistan, something very few take note when they quote the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2011. “The Haqqani Network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” Mullen had said.

Pakistan, ever politically unstable, is being squeezed on the eastern border by India. On the western border, which the Pakhtun of both states don’t recognise, it is being pressured by the renegade Pakistani Taliban and the Kabul government, which funds them with financial assistance from India — all of it getting mixed up with the insurgents in Balochistan and their killers in Sindh.

The US today threatens to punish Pakistan if it doesn’t act against the Haqqanis but if Pakistan does its bidding it will lose its last leverage with Afghanistan which in turn means it will be out of any peace process with its western neighbour. Regionally, India is getting together with the US to counter the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — Pakistan’s last chance to get out of decades of instability and economic inertia.

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

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  1. R
    rajan
    Aug 6, 2017 at 6:29 am
    Sir, you sent us 10 Muslims who were chanting praises to Mohamed while killing Hindu women and children in Mumbai. What have Hindus done to you?
    Reply
    1. R
      rajan
      Aug 6, 2017 at 6:27 am
      Same old Muslim story. Keep killing civilians while chanting Allah u Akbar and keep blaming hindus and jews.
      Reply
      1. M
        MyTake
        Aug 6, 2017 at 4:27 am
        Since Pakistan has given foothold for China in its territory, its only a matter of time before democracy aspiring countries come together against this dictatorial but Commie dominated block! True Muslims also should be joining the democratic forces to free one of their "brothers" from this mainly satanic grip! What is so good about Islam in China after all! Those who are selling Islam to Pak is only the Army whose seat is being kept warm by PLA under Commie rule!
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Aug 6, 2017 at 4:16 am
          Pakistan is the main trouble maker in the subcontinent and now it has invited China to push the subcontinent further into trouble. Subcontinent without Pakistan or at least a neutral Pakistan will be a much better place. If Pakistan is forced to become neutral in any troubling issue in the world (including the export of its only foreign currency earning product called terrorism, sometime under the protection of China - Masood for example) 70-80 of world major problems will vanish! But in reality is it possible? Probably not. What then is the solution? Long term solution is to find ways help people in Pakistan and mainly in Balochistan, Sindh and other places realise their dream of getting free and bring them under the democratic fold. This will be a great achievement to start true and real democracy rolling over in Muslim dominated parts of the world (so far unheard of) bringing a domino affect. People in those parts are gasping for breath of democracy!
          Reply
          1. L
            lafanga
            Aug 6, 2017 at 6:18 am
            It's actually India who is creating problem for everyone. If India wasn't there then all the countries would benefit from Chinese investment in OBOR. There won't have been any border disputes and Afghanistan would be peaceful. Indians please move to Mars or better yet leave the galaxy. It will be much peaceful.
            Reply
          2. V
            Vinay
            Aug 5, 2017 at 8:36 pm
            No matter how much you squeeze Pakistan, you will get only poison out of it
            Reply
            1. L
              lafanga
              Aug 6, 2017 at 4:04 am
              Which we will feed to India. Don't get too excited.
              Reply
              1. T
                Thrinethran T
                Aug 6, 2017 at 4:34 am
                That sounds so North Korean, such a poor national vision, which as the "sword arm' was bad enough in the first place.
            2. E
              Ehsan Habib
              Aug 5, 2017 at 3:23 pm
              Strange, the international chamber of commerce and industry in its July review has placed Pakistan at 96 peaceful. Anybody can see the rankings on internet. But I didn't see that anywhere in the dirt above.
              Reply
              1. M
                Murthy
                Aug 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm
                Ehsan Habib, I understand your patriotism for your country. I love my country, Bharath, and so, I appreciate your love for yours. BUT, just as I seek to understand what my country is going through, you should seek an understanding too of yours... In Bharath, we have NO fundamentalist positions, contrary to what you and our own Pseudo-seculars scream about, whether it be Dalits or Gau Rakshak. There is HUGE exaggeration by our Media. But, in your country, fundamentalist religious ideas are a REAL problem for many. BLASPHEMY is an ever present threat. Your Lashkars and Talibans can quote your 'Book' and you cannot control them. Here in Bharath, there are only FOLK WAYS to argue over, which we do. There is NO HINDU counterpart to your Blasphemy. Contrary to what our Media Hindus shout much about, there are NO Lashkars or Hindu Taliban. But we are having some Muslim Terrorist outfits in sheeps clothing, such as the Popular Front of India and its foot soldiers.
                Reply
              2. R
                Raman
                Aug 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm
                If China and Pakistan's mission is to keep India busy on its toes with one or other skirmishes along the border, how come India is not activating the Tibetan brothers in India going their job in Tibetan front? Tibetans in India are full of zeal to do just that. China must be paid in same currency.
                Reply
                1. U
                  undefined
                  Aug 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm
                  India ! You buy arms from outside! Your game ? You have to play in real not by speaking! Do you have enough arms,military transports vehicles, tanks, bombers etc to supply freely to your Tibetan brothers continuously to fight Chinese invasion of Tibet?!
                  Reply
                2. Z
                  zubair
                  Aug 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm
                  writer and analysis.
                  Reply
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