Haqqani
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News Analysis |

Pakistan refuses to take the blame for the Haqqani Network and other alleged militant outfits, reminding the United States that these ‘terrorists’ were considered the ‘darlings’ of the White House up until a few decades ago.

The Foreign Minister’s statement also shows that the Pakistani state is cognizant of the problems that militant non-state actors pose and is implementing a phased program of tackling such groups

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who is attending the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, made remarks to this end at the Asia Society forum on Tuesday. “Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeed’s [referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa]. These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say ‘go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people’.”

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Further clarifying Islamabad’s position, Asif said: “It is very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further.”

After the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Haqqani again moved back to Waziristan where guerillas fighting under his banner initiated a campaign of attrition against the US forces occupying Afghanistan

The Pakistani foreign minister’s statement came after a barrage of hostile words by American officials directed against Pakistan, “a major non-NATO ally” of the USA.  Khwaja Asif was no doubt alluding to the US project of arming, training and abetting Muslim fighters against the Soviet troops occupying the country during the 1980s known as Operation Cyclone.

The history of the Haqqani network is intertwined with Operation Cyclone. The network’s founder, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, was initially a member of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami, which in the 1970s was waging a battle against Afghan president Sardar Daud over his crackdown on nascent Islamists influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Daud’s implacable opposition to the Hizb prompted its leaders to shift to Pakistan, where subsequently a faction under Maulvi Yunis Khalis split away from Hekmatyar. Haqqani emerged as one of the more important commanders of the Khalis faction.

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In 1979, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Jalaluddin shifted his family and fighters from his home province of Khost to North Waziristan, from where he launched deadly sallies against the Russians in Afghanistan

In 1979, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Jalaluddin shifted his family and fighters from his home province of Khost to North Waziristan, from where he launched deadly sallies against the Russians in Afghanistan. Through the 1980s Jalaluddin worked in tandem with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which treated him as a commander of formidable power and repute. Another favorable factor for the Haqqani network was the welcoming of foreign fighters such as Arabs into its ranks who were being imported by the CIA.

The Mujahideen grew so beloved of the US administration that they were invited to a meeting in the White House with the US president Ronald Reagan. Jalaluddin became a special favorite of the CIA after he became the first resistance leader to capture a city – Khost – from the Soviet-backed Najibullah government in 1991. He was appointed justice minister in the first Mujahideen government in 1992 but switched his allegiance to the Taliban as they threatened Kabul.

These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say ‘go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people

After the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Haqqani again moved back to Waziristan where guerillas fighting under his banner initiated a campaign of attrition against the US forces occupying Afghanistan. Their campaign has become successful to a point that in a telephonic interview to Reuters Haqqani stated that “Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people.” Thus admitting that they now were based within Afghanistan and not Pakistan.

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Khawaja Asif’s statements can be used a tool to highlight the problem of the selective memory of the US administration. Often the US narrative lays the blame on other states while shirking from taking responsibility. It is an open fact about how a major part of the Muslim extremism plaguing the world today is due to American policies.

The Foreign Minister’s statement also shows that the Pakistani state is cognizant of the problems that militant non-state actors pose and is implementing a phased program of tackling such groups. It also highlighted that the Pakistani state will no longer bow to the “Do More” rhetoric that has plagued its diplomatic conversations with the rest of the world.

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