Military


Haqqani Network

Centered in the city of Khost, the followers of popular warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani continue to resist extension of the Karzai government's authority into their border region. In the 1980s Jalaluddin Haqqani fought as a mujahedin leader against Soviet forces, receiving substantial assistance from the CIA by way of Pakistan's ISI. One of Hekmatyar's most effective former commanders, Jalaluddin Haqqani, later joined the Taliban and became its minister for tribal affairs. Though he had joined the Taliban, he joined the government as a Minister but retained a separate power base in his home Zadran district and tribe, east of Kabul.

By 2008 anti-government forces were multifaceted, and consisted not only of Taliban loyalists but also of various jihadists - Gulbeddin Hekmatyar's faction of Hizb-i-Islami in the east and Jalaluddin Haqqani's group in North Waziristan (among others). These groups have distinct goals, and their collaboration is less alliance than marriage of convenience. It is at times difficult at a distance to attribute and disaggregate the actions of each, and "Taliban" functions as a flawed shorthand. The Haqqani network is closely associated with the Taliban and one of its strongest factions. Reportedly, the network is also particularly closely linked to al Qaeda.

Jalaluddin Haqqani's son Sirajudin has reportedly ascended to a key leadership role, and has reportedly called for changes in the leadership of the Quetta shura. US officials in Afghanistan note that Sirajudin, like his father, has focused on his home Zadran district but has also expanded his activities into the areas south of Kabul. Jalaluddin Haqqaniand his son Sirajuddin are reputedly the commanders of the mujahideen forces that fought the Pakistani government to a draw in Waziristan in 2008.

Popular with Middle Eastern private backers, Haqqani in the past has been eagerly courted by the Karzai government with offers of government positions. The important Taliban "Peshawar Shura" is headquartered in Pakistan's North West Frontier province. The militias headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani are fighting US forces alongside the Taliban. Hekmatyar operates in the tribal areas of Dir and Bajur, while Jalaluddin Haqqani is based in Waziristan. Sirajuddin Haqqani operates in Ghazni, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika and Khost area.

In July 2008 a CIA assessment specifically pointed to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believed maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

On 22 September 2011, outgoing US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of actively supporting the Haqqani network and their operations inside Pakistan. Admiral Mullen claimed to have evidence of the link between the ISI and the insurgent group. The Pakistani government rejected the accusations, saying that it maintained back-channel contacts with the group for the purposes of furthering peace and stability.

On 3 October 2011, Siraj Haqqani said in an interview with the BBC that the United States was one of many nations whose intelligence agencies had asked the group to quit the Afghan insurgency. On 21 October 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then visiting Pakistan, acknowledged that the United States has reached out to the militant Haqqani network in a bid to end the violence in war-torn Afghanistan. Her visit was also said to be part of US pressure for Pakistani military action against the group in Pakistan's North Waziristan.




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