Jalaluddin Haqqani—the founder of the Haqqani militant network has died at 72, after several years of illness, according to the Afghan Taliban. Media intensely speculated over his death for a number of years. Fearsome commander—despite disappearance from public life, remained a significant militant figure in Afghanistan. However, he hadn’t been heard from in years and rumors of his death were never confirmed.
“Just as he endured great hardships for the religion of Allah during his youth and health, he also endured long illness during his later years,” Taliban said in a statement. Taliban did not publish any further statements regarding the date or place of Haqqani’s death. After Haqqani reduced his engagement probably due to poor physical health, his son—Sirajuddin Haqqani took over from him in 2001 and controlled the group activities.
The US has slowly cut down the military aid to Pakistan after unveiling its new South Asian policy in January. This week, again, US has suspended $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) over Islamabad’s inability to take action against terrorists.
Over the years, Haqqani network had established close ties with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and attacked the NATO forces and Afghan soldiers. The United Stated—which mostly struggled to build a trustworthy relationship with Pakistan, often accused the Afghan neighbors of facilitating the group. It blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to control the group’s presence in Pakistan—as it enjoyed the safe havens in Pakistan’s tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
The US has till date remained adamant that the Haqqani network is responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. The US has built a narrative in which Pakistan has failed time and time again in taking significant action to constrain the ability of the Haqqani Network to operate from Pakistan-based safe havens.
But, despite Pakistan insistence to provide the evidence on the existence of the network in the country, US fails to put forward the proof regarding the presence of safe havens in Pakistan and its operational networks. The US has slowly cut down the military aid to Pakistan after unveiling its new South Asian policy in January. This week, again, US has suspended $300 million from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) over Islamabad’s inability to take action against terrorists.
Pakistan maintains that group has shifted to Afghanistan. Taliban controls the significant area of Afghanistan. The US has failed to defeat the Taliban insurgency as it continues to disrupt peace in the war-torn country. US failure in Afghanistan is not in the political interest of the ruling elite and the establishment—which in order to satisfy the public at large blames Pakistan for not doing enough to curb the Haqqani network.
As a Taliban ally, he fought against the US military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 which ousted the Taliban government.
US media bemoans its presence in Pakistan, ignoring the fact that the US fails to provide evidence of its existence in the country. Haqqani was a guerrilla leader—who founded the network in the 1970s and was instrumental in defeating Soviet troops in the 1980s and served as a strategic partner of US. He was famously called a freedom fighter by President Reagan.
However, the relationship deteriorated after the Soviet defeat ad prized asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) became an ally of the Afghan Taliban in 1996. As a Taliban ally, he fought against the US military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 which ousted the Taliban government.
Haqqani’s demise only has a symbolic importance given that his son is already controlling the group. However, it’s an emotional loss for the Taliban and people of Afghanistan—who term the fight against the US, a freedom struggle. Despite Haqqani’s death, his group remains one of the most powerful in Afghanistan.