Why Admiral Mullen is talking tough with Pakistan over Haqqani militants
In an uncharacteristically blunt move, US Adm. Mike Mullen said publicly that Pakistan had a 'longstanding relationship' with the Haqqani militant group. The US appears to be both prodding Pakistan to finally root out militants in its border region and attempting to set the parameters for Afghan peace talks.
With unusual bluntness, America’s top military officer publicly accused Pakistani intelligence as having a “longstanding relationship” with a US enemy, the Haqqani Network. By zeroing in on this faction within the Afghan insurgency, the US appears to be prodding Pakistan to finally root out militants and attempting to set the parameters for Afghan peace talks.Skip to next paragraph
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“It’s fairly well known that the ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network,” Adm. Mike Mullen told the Pakistan newspaper Dawn before a meeting with Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. “Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Led by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin, the Haqqani Network operates out of Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal agency. Holed up with them are intertwined global jihadists from groups that include Al Qaeda. The Pakistani military has led military operations to root out militants in other tribal areas but says it will not be able to tackle North Waziristan anytime soon.
For the Americans, time is running out for military progress on the Afghan border, however.
“The US announced certain deadlines, they want to start pullout [of Afghanistan] by July 2011, and give up security of Afghanistan by 2014. To do that, they need changes on the grounds quickly,” says Ijaz Khattak, professor of international relations at Pakistan's Peshawar University. “The Haqqani Network has become a very serious bone of contention” between the US and Pakistan.
The problems with 'frenemies'
The Haqqanis are by no means the only problem between these “frenemies.” The recent case of detained CIA contractor Raymond Davis convinced the Pakistanis that US contractors are running amok on their soil. Americans, meanwhile saw a blatant violation of the basic rules of diplomacy – let alone strategic partnership.