Months long heated debate on notorious Haqqani network has almost come to an end with announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham ClintonHillary Rodham Clinton as she said in a statement on Friday that Haqqani network – that is allegedly based in Pakistan – has been branded as a foreign terrorist outfit. For the last couple of years, United States have been pushing Pakistan to launch a full scale military operation against the militants based in North Waziristan – a lawless region of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. The US believes that militants linked to the outfit are involved in cross border terrorism besides attacking the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.
A number of discerning observers based here in New York City opine the move will definitely bring a lot of pressure on Pakistani government to move against the outfit; otherwise the US may launch intelligence operation against the outfit in Pakistani territory. However, Pakistan’s embassy based in the US termed the matter an internal affair of America and the statement issued from the embassy stated that Pakistani government will continue cooperating with the international community to root out terrorism and extremism. The statement said that Haqqanis are not Pakistan nationals nor Pakistani institutions including intelligence agencies have got any links with them.
The secretary of state said the US will move against the network wherever they are based in the world. The US is also going to freeze assets of the organisation and pressure powerful army of Pakistan to move against the network. On the other hand, a senior commander of Haqqani network told Reuters that designation of the outfit as terrorist organisation would affect the peace process in Afghanistan. He said that the United States on one hand is talking about political solution of Afghanistan crisis while on the other hand it has designated Haqqanis as terrorists. The commander said the move is counterproductive and will only harm the peace process in Afghanistan.
In the coming weeks and months, Obama administration will increase pressure on Islamabad for a military operation against the network as it is found involved in dozens of high profile attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always been denying presence of the network in its tribal region but the US intelligence agencies believe that the very group not only exists in the region but also is funded and supported by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Pakistan denies the charges and says being a frontline ally of the United States in war on terror, Pakistani officials and spying agencies even can’t think of supporting the terrorist outfit.
However, it is still premature to say anything about any military offensive against the outfit. Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has already hinted off an operation in North Waziristan, saying civilian government is mandated to decide on suitable time of the operation against terrorists based in the region.