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Haqqani network poses ‘most ominous threat’ to US-Pak ties

Obama administration is the US is "one major attack" away from "unilateral action against Pakistan.

Written by Agencies | New York | Published: July 31, 2012 1:17:30 pm

The dreaded Haqqani network has emerged as the “most ominous threat” to the already fragile US-Pakistan ties as American officials believe the terror group has an “ongoing relationship” with the ISI and the two were doing more than just talking,a media report has said.

A senior Obama administration official said that the US thinks the Haqqani network has an “ongoing relationship with

the Pakistani spy agency ISI,according to media.

The US and other Western officials,citing intelligence reports,say the ISI and Haqqanis “do more than just talk.”

Pakistani intelligence allows Haqqani operatives to run legitimate businesses in Pakistan,facilitates their travel to

Persian Gulf states and has continued to donate money,the NYT said.

Senior Haqqani figures even own houses in the Pakistani capital Islamabad,where their relatives live unmolested.

At a time when the US readies to withdraw troops from

Afghanistan,recent terror attacks like the June 1 assault on

Camp Salerno near the border with Pakistan orchestrated by the Haqqani have “cemented the group’s standing as the most ominous threat to the fragile American-Pakistani

relationship,” officials from both countries say.

The paper said a “new boldness from the Haqqanis that

aims at mass American casualties,combined with simmering

political tension,has reduced the room for ambiguity between the two countries.”

A commonly held view inside the Obama administration is

that the US is “one major attack” away from “unilateral action

against Pakistan diplomatically or perhaps even militarily,”

according to a senior official.

“If 50 US troops were blown to smithereens by the Haqqanis or they penetrated the US Embassy in Kabul and killed several diplomats that would be the game changer,” he said.

The two countries are just beginning to mend relations

after months of grueling negotiations that reopened NATO

supply routes through Pakistan.

The dreaded Haqqani network has emerged as the “most ominous threat” to the already fragile US-Pakistan ties as American officials believe the terror group has an “ongoing relationship” with the ISI and the two were doing more than just talking,a media report has said.

A senior Obama administration official said that the US

thinks the Haqqani network has an “ongoing relationship with

the Pakistani spy agency ISI,according to the New York times.

The US and other Western officials,citing intelligence reports,say the ISI and Haqqanis “do more than just talk.”

Pakistani intelligence allows Haqqani operatives to run

legitimate businesses in Pakistan,facilitates their travel to

Persian Gulf states and has continued to donate money,the NYT said. Senior Haqqani figures even own houses in the Pakistani capital Islamabad,where their relatives live unmolested.

At a time when the US readies to withdraw troops from

Afghanistan,recent terror attacks like the June 1 assault on

Camp Salerno near the border with Pakistan orchestrated by the Haqqani have “cemented the group’s standing as the most ominous threat to the fragile American-Pakistani

relationship,” officials from both countries say.

The paper said a “new boldness from the Haqqanis that aims at mass American casualties,combined with simmering

political tension,has reduced the room for ambiguity between the two countries.”

A commonly held view inside the Obama administration is

that the US is “one major attack” away from “unilateral action

against Pakistan diplomatically or perhaps even militarily,”

according to a senior official.

“If 50 US troops were blown to smithereens by the

Haqqanis or they penetrated the US Embassy in Kabul and killed several diplomats that would be the game changer,” he said.

The two countries are just beginning to mend relations

after months of grueling negotiations that reopened NATO

supply routes through Pakistan.

Since 2008,Haqqani suicide attackers have struck the Indian Embassy,five-star hotels,restaurants and the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the American Embassy.

“Their success is rooted in the sanctuary enjoyed by Haqqani leadership in North Waziristan,where,at the very

least,they are unmolested by the Pakistani military,” the

report added.

Members of the Haqqani network are able to live freely in

Pakistani cities.

A Western diplomat said he had seen credible reports that

the group’s leader,Sirajuddin Haqqani,dined openly in a city

center restaurant this year.

Officials,however,say such links do not amount to ISI

support for attacks on Americans but point to something more subtle – “a containment policy that is devised to prevent Haqqani violence inside Pakistan,all the while providing a strategic card to help influence the future of Afghanistan.”

The report said one difficulty in determining the truth about Haqqani-ISI ties is the fragmentary nature of Western

intelligence: a mosaic of satellite images,intercepted phone

calls and human intelligence.

Several officials said,the ISI may be serving the Haqqani agenda more than the other way around.

“Their interests are not always aligned,” said a US intelligence official who tracks the Haqqanis closely.

The United States has long pressured Pakistan to attack the Haqqanis in North Waziristan,but the military says its

forces are overstretched.

“It’s not that we are unwilling to go against them; we just don’t have the resources,” the ISI official said.

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