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Pakistan Daily Says Haqqanis Joining Afghan Reconciliation To Improve Situation
SAP20100617114008 Karachi Business Recorder Online in English 17 Jun 10
[Editorial: Deal With Haqqani Network?]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
EDITORIAL (June 17 2010): Is Pakistan pushing the United States to give the Haqqani network a chance? It is too early to get the right answer to this question, but, certainly, with the ouster of Amrullah Saleh from his office as head of Afghanistan's all-powerful National Directorate of Security (NDS), the possibility of the Haqqanis joining the Afghan reconciliation and reintegration efforts cannot be ruled out.
Perhaps, the Haqqanis are as much antagonised with the former intelligence chief, as with the Americans, for the latter's missile attacks last year which killed several members of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani's family. A Tajik by race, Amrullah Saleh is a remnant of the Northern Alliance which still nurses visceral hatred for the Haqqani network.
Their mutual animosity had climaxed during the post-Soviet civil war, when following an abject surrender, several hundreds of the Northern Alliance-backed Glim Jam fighters were taken prisoners and shifted to the Haqqani headquarters in Khost near the Pak-Afghan border.
Now that President Karzai is looking beyond the July-2011 deadline for the foreign troops to begin leaving Afghanistan, the option to bring this network on board for the reconciliation process to succeed is very much real and pragmatic. And, surely, if that option is brought into play, Pakistan would be more than willing to offer its cooperation.
Since the Haqqani group virtually controls five bordering provinces - Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Logar and Ghazi - its decision to join the peace and reconciliation process would improve the security situation in that area with a concomitant positive fallout in Pakistan's adjacent areas, especially North Waziristan.
An ousted Amrullah had greatly influenced the American perspective, by propagating that Haqqanis have their 'safe havens in North Waziristan, much to the chagrin of the Pakistani authorities who reject the allegation. With Haqqanis on line with the Americans, Pakistan would find its position of rejecting calls for military operation in this agency as fully vindicated. So, if Pakistan is seen to be pushing the United States to get in touch with the Haqqani leadership, one wouldn't be surprised.
Given the history of Afghans' resistance to foreign occupation and the hollowness of the US-led coalition's excuse to invade and occupy Afghanistan, ultimate victory was never guaranteed. But the task to install a popular government in place of the ousted Taliban outfit has been made difficult all the more for the Karzai government's conflicting goals and factional infighting. On the face of it, while all these years the Afghan government was seen to be fighting the Taliban, a powerful lobby within it was employing all its resources to keep the Pushtun majority out of the corridors of power.
Obviously, the disgruntled Afghan Pushtun turned against the government and over time became a rich source for the recruitment of foot soldiers of the Taliban. Haqqanis are Pushtun; their oppositional stance is largely based in their struggle for the political survival of the Pushtun segment of Afghan society. If they come on board and join the government in finding a way out of the present mess that would be a way forward in the difficult but achievable objective of securing a fully reconciled Afghan polity.

[Description of Source: Karachi Business Recorder Online in English -- Website of a leading business daily. The group also owns Aaj News TV; URL: http://www.brecorder.com/]

Pakistan: Envoy Holbrooke Says Talks With Haqqani Network Hard to Imagine
SAP20100621103010 Karachi Dawn Online in English 21 Jun 10
[AFP report: Reconciling with Haqqani network hard to imagine]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
ISLAMABAD: Envoy Richard Holbrooke on Sunday said that Washington was not against reconciliation with militants, but with the Haqqani network this was "hard to imagine".
"Hard to imagine," said Mr Holbrooke when asked if there could be reconciliation with the Jalaluddin Haqqani-led militant group.
"But I do want to underscore that we have some very clear publicly stated criteria and one is renounce Al Qaeda and other is participate voluntarily in the peaceful evolution of Afghanistan within its constitution," he said. "And this is hard to see that happening, but who knows."
Mr Holbrooke acknowledged that Pakistan was trying to fight the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. "The Pakistanis are trying to deal with this problem, they are well aware of it and even in the area in North Waziristan there is some activity going on, but there is a lot more that could be done if the resources were available."

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn Online in English -- Website of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; URL: http://www.dawn.com]

Pakistan: Afghan Taliban Deny Meeting of Militant Leader With Karzai
SAP20100628098005 Islamabad The News Online in English 28 Jun 10
[Report by Mushtaq Yusufzai: Taliban deny Haqqanis meeting with Karzai]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban have termed a report about the meeting of veteran Mujahideen leader and former Taliban minister, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani with President Karzai in Kabul an attempt by the enemy to create rift among the Taliban.
"This is rubbish. There is not even one per cent truth in these reports, which said Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani went to Kabul and held a meeting with President Karzai. Why he would go to Kabul to meet the US puppet at a time when we have an upper hand in the battlefield," explained a senior Taliban commander belonging to the strong Taliban faction led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the elder son of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Talking to The News from an undisclosed location, the Taliban commander, who is considered close to the elderly Haqqani, said on condition of anonymity they were astonished to hear media reports about the meeting between Jalaluddin Haqqani and Karzai. He claimed it was not the first time they had received an offer from Karzai for peace talks but they always turned down his offers.
He said the Taliban had a clear stance about the peace talks with Karzai. "We have made it clear several times that we would not sit for any dialogue until and unless foreign occupying forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan," he stressed.
The Taliban commander said the Afghan government and their Western masters in the past had extended several offers to them to quit fighting and join the Karzai-led government.
"If we had any desire for power, we would have surrendered years ago and become a part of the ruling set-up in Afghanistan. The blood of our martyrs would not go waste and would one day bear fruit. The Taliban of today are different than those of yesteryears. Today, the Afghan people are standing behind us as we are fighting for the liberation of Afghanistan," he said.
He said their "enemies" launched malicious propaganda whenever they suffered losses at Taliban's hands in the battlefield. Also, he felt that through such reports, their enemies wanted to create a rift among the Taliban leadership.
"We are a part of the Taliban and would never take any decision without taking the Taliban leadership into confidence," the Taliban commander said.
The Haqqani network is largely active in Afghanistan's Khost, Paktia, Paktika and Logar provinces and in the capital.
Its leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, claimed to have organised several devastating attacks against the US-led forces in Afghanistan. The US government has announced $5 million as head money on him.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English -- Website of a widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Usually offers leading news and analysis on issues related to war against terrorism. Circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/]

Report Says Pakistan Eager to Establish Ties With Haqqani Network
SAP20100629103012 Lahore Daily Times Online in English 29 Jun 10
[Reuters report: Pakistan seeks to exploit US command vacuum]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is looking to exploit a shake-up in the US command in Afghanistan to bolster its allies within the Taliban and increase its influence over a future Kabul government, analysts say.
The strategy, however, relies on bringing the brutal and independent-minded Haqqani network to heel, something many believe is impossible.
The incoming US commander, General David Petraeus, "does not have a good relationship" with Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said Ahmed Rashid, a political analyst, journalist and expert on the Taliban.
"The army does not trust him and they don't like him," Rashid said. "This hiatus is going to be used by both the Afghan government and the Pakistani government to see if they can get something going," he added.
In essence, Pakistan is hoping the American command vacuum proves a window of opportunity for Islamabad to deal more directly with Kabul in forcing an accommodation with its militant allies, such as the Haqqani network.
This is currently opposed by the United States, but it would grant Pakistan a large measure of influence in Afghanistan.
After McChrystal's replacement, Pakistan is hoping to establish a "reality on the ground" before Petraeus fully takes over, said Rashid.
"I think there will be a review of US policy very quickly as soon as Petraeus arrives and I think these efforts are being made to try and influence that review and put Pakistan in the driving seat," he said.
And the Haqqani network and the Taliban is one of the main levers for Pakistan to exert influence.
"Pakistan is not just prepared but very eager to play a role in bringing peace in Afghanistan," said Rahimullah Yousafzai, an expert on Taliban militancy.
Run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an elderly veteran resistance leader against Soviet troops in the 1980s, the Haqqani network operates near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.
Leadership of the group has largely passed from the ailing Haqqani to his son, Sirajuddin, seen by US officials as more radical than his father. Yousafzai and Rashid both think it would be very difficult to convince the Haqqanis to lay down their arms.
"He (Sirajuddin) is very committed to international jihad. Part of his network includes al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, other central Asian groups, Chechen groups. He's been very protective of all these groups and they form his strength right now," Rashid said.
"Secondly, they have never, never issued any kind of statement even remotely discussing the issue of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan," he said.
This weekend, a private TV channel Al Jazeera reported that Sirajuddin recently met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Gen Kayani and the head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmad Pasha to discuss a peace deal.
But official sources in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Taliban spokespeople speaking for Haqqani, strenuously denied any such meeting.
"The Haqqani group isn't a separate entity," said Yousafzai. "Jalaluddin is a member of the supreme Taliban shura. I think it's impossible that Jalaluddin Haqqani or his son will strike a separate deal with Kabul," he said.
The US doubts that any deal can be made until the Haqqanis and other Taliban militants feel they are on the defensive in Afghanistan.
A senior intelligence official in Islamabad said that while Pakistan would like a "friendly" Afghanistan -- which many analysts believe a Taliban-dominated government might provide -- Pakistan would settle for peace. "We can deal with a hostile Afghanistan as long as it is peaceful," he said.d.
Rashid scoffed at the idea of Pakistan wanting only a peaceful Afghanistan as "propaganda".
"Our interest is not just having a peaceful Afghanistan. It's more than that, certainly. Otherwise we wouldn't be trying so hard," he added.

[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times Online in English -- Website of the independent, moderate daily, run by Media Times (Private) Ltd., owned by Salman Taseer, the incumbent governor of Punjab province. Veteran journalist Najam Sethi is the editor-in-chief. The same group owns and publishes weekly newspaper The Friday Times and Urdu daily Aaj Kal. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated circulation of 20,000.; URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]

Pakistan: Kayani Denies Organizing Secret Meetings Between Karzai, Haqqani
SAP20100702103026 Karachi Dawn Online in English 02 Jul 10
[AFP report: Kayani says he did not broker Karzais talks with Haqqani]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
ISLAMABAD: Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani on Wednesday denied organising secret meetings in Kabul between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a senior al Qaeda-linked militant.
Gen Kayani's brief statement came days after a media report claimed that he and the head of Pakistans intelligence services facilitated a meeting between Mr Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the Haqqani network.
"General Ashfaq Kayani has said that during his last two visits to Kabul, he met President Karzai to discuss issues of mutual interest," the military said in a statement.
It quoted Gen Kayani as saying that on both these occasions, recently-sacked NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal was also present. The statement, however, did not specify when the meetings took place.
"This transparent trilateral engagement augurs well for the comfort level of the leadership of all prime stake holders and strengthens the existing relationship," Gen Kayani said.
Relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been marked by distrust, but there have been growing signs of rapprochement and Mr Karzai in March welcomed an offer from Pakistan to help with peace efforts.
Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omar had also dismissed the report that the Afghan president had a face-to-face with Haqqani in Kabul.
Haqqani network leaders are believed to be based in North Waziristan. Created by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and run by his son Sirajuddin the group is one of the toughest foes for foreign forces in Afghanistan, particularly in the east of the country.--

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn Online in English -- Website of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; URL: http://www.dawn.com]

Pakistan: Report Says Karzai Using Old Friends For Peace Deal With Taliban

SAP20100704098026 Lahore Daily Times Online in English 04 Jul 10
[AP report: Talibans al Qaeda ties obstacle to Afghan peace]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is using old friends and new allies to try to bring some of the fiercest Taliban to the negotiating table, although their links to al Qaeda might scuttle any deal.
Pakistan is trying to broker a deal between the Afghan government and the Haqqani group, one of the most violent Taliban factions led by veteran rebel leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to Afghan parliamentarians and Pakistani analysts.
Haqqani was a legendary commander in the war against the Soviets who had close ties to the Reagan administration. Now, he and his son Sirajuddin command hundreds - perhaps thousands - of fighters blamed for some of the most audacious attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan.
Pressurising: "The president is trying to use old friendships with Jalaluddin Haqqani and his sons to make them participate in the reconciliation process," said Khaled Pashtun, an Afghan lawmaker from the Taliban heartland of southern Kandahar. "Pakistan is also pressurising the government to bring this person (Haqqani) in the government," he said.
Yet Haqqani's ties to al Qaeda run deep. His friendship with Osama bin Laden dates back to the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Haqqani allowed bin Laden to set up a base on his territory in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan.
Since US President Barack Obama announced the start of a US troops withdrawal in July 2011, Karzai has sought to improve relations with Pakistan and reach out to the insurgents.
As a sign of good faith, he pledged to seek the release of detainees and lobby the United Nations to remove some of the insurgent leaders from a blacklist that froze their bank accounts and prevents them from travelling abroad.
He also signed a reintegration decree this week offering amnesty and economic incentives to Taliban fighters who want to leave the battlefield, if they accept the Afghan constitution and break ties with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence believe the Haqqani group is an important force to protect Pakistani interests in Afghanistan.
General (r) Talat Masood said Pakistan's military believes that bringing insurgents - including the Haqqani group - into the Afghan government is the only way of stabilising the country once America and its allies leave.
But the Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think-tank, describes Haqqani as "irreconcilable", saying negotiations with his network would strengthen al Qaeda, undermine regional stability and threaten US security.
In a study released this week, the institute cited a statement released in April by Sirajuddin, describing cooperation with al Qaeda as "at its highest level".
"Any negotiated settlement with the Haqqanis threatens to undermine the raison d'etre for US involvement in Afghanistan over the past decade," the study said.
Brian Cloughley, South Asia defence analyst for Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments, said it is clear that Pakistan has leverage with Haqqani and other extremist groups.
But he added Haqqani's tight links to al Qaeda "may be just a shade too deep for the Americans to accept".

[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times Online in English -- Website of the independent, moderate daily, run by Media Times (Private) Ltd., owned by Salman Taseer, the incumbent governor of Punjab province. Veteran journalist Najam Sethi is the editor-in-chief. The same group owns and publishes weekly newspaper The Friday Times and Urdu daily Aaj Kal. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated circulation of 20,000.; URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]

Asia Times: 'Terror' Threat To Karzai's Taliban Plan
CPP20100716715034 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 0517 GMT 16 Jul 10
[Asia Times Report by Abubakar Siddique: "'terror' Threat To Karzai's Taliban Plan"; headline as provided by source]
The administration of United States President Barack Obama is reportedly considering blacklisting major Taliban factions, a move aimed at undermining groups linked closely to al-Qaeda, but which could also jeopardize Afghan President Hamid Karzai's efforts to reconcile with Afghan insurgent leaders based in neighboring Pakistan.
General David Petraeus, commander of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, discussed the idea of blacklisting the Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani network with senior administration officials last week, according to The New York Times. Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan), meanwhile, called on the State Department on July 13 to also place the Quetta shura, the Taliban's leadership council led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, on its list of terrorist organizations.
Sirajuddin Haqqani currently leads the network founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former Taliban minister and anti-Soviet commander in the 1980s. The network has a reputation for being ruthless, and is accused of being behind many of the most high-profile attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The Haqqani network is also seen as having ties to the Quetta shura, which is based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta and made up of remnants of the former Taliban regime loyal to Mullah Omar.
BOTh Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar have long been on the US blacklist of fugitive terrorists, with a State Department program offering US$5 million and $10 million, respectively, for information leading to their capture.
But while expanding the US blacklist is intended to strike deeper into the core of organizations affiliated with the two men, with the aim of undermining the insurgency being waged in Afghanistan, doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of the move.
Kabul-based Afghan analyst Wahid Muzda argues that designating Taliban groups, in particular the Haqqani network, as terrorists would do little to persuade its followers to give up fighting.
"I don't think that the Haqqani network can ever break away from the Taliban ranks and come here (to join the government)," Muzda says. "On the other hand, blacklisting is nothing new for them, and the Americans will gain little from this. If they want to pressure or threaten Sirajuddin Haqqani it won't work and the fighting will continue."
End to rapprochement
Some suggest a move to expand the blacklist could also undermine the Afghan president's reconciliation efforts.
International media recently reported that the Pakistani military brokered direct negotiations between Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, reports both Islamabad and Kabul denied.
If the reports are true, however, a terrorist designation could make it even harder for Karzai to explore rapprochement with the Taliban. It could also push Washington to consistently pressure Islamabad to move against the group in North Waziristan. For years Pakistan has resisted going after the network because its sees the Haqqanis as potential future allies after an eventual US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The network is widely believed to be based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal district along the Afghan border, which is also believed to shelter Arab jihadis from al-Qaeda and militants affiliated with Central Asian extremist groups.
Who to talk to
The move comes as Karzai has apparently persuaded Washington to push for de-listing certain Taliban leaders from a United Nations sanctions list first established in 1999.
Kabul-based Afghan analyst Ahmad Sayedi tells RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the move indicates that Washington wants to make a clear distinction between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements among the Afghan insurgents, "to understand who is being talked to and where (and on what terms)."
Sayedi adds that Washington has "information that Jalaluddin Haqqani and some of Mullah Omar's followers have close ties with al-Qaeda or they are part of al-Qaeda . The Americans do not want to negotiate with elements closely tied to al-Qaeda."

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