Is Pakistan actually sheltering the militant group on its soil?
The refrain from the United States is that Pakistan ignores/supports safe havens on its soil from where the Haqqani Network attacks cities in Afghanistan. In a recent statement, a State Department spokesman says: “We have consistently expressed our concerns to the highest levels of the Government of Pakistan about their continued tolerance for Afghan Taliban groups such as the Haqqani Network operating from Pakistan soil.”
Pakistan says there are no safe havens for terrorists in the country. However, prior to the launch of the military’s anti-Taliban Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Haqqanis were in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas and some contacts that they had with the Pakistani establishment—as made public in the media—were hardly reassuring. Is Pakistan telling the truth when it claims that all terrorists attacking across the Durand Line have fled into Afghanistan?
There was a time when Pakistan was seen to be playing a double game, running a parallel policy to the one adopted by ally America, mainly to counter the growing clout of India in the country’s west. The Haqqanis were even present in Islamabad until one member of the ruling family was killed to signal to the world the truth about Pakistan’s avowals of non-involvement in terrorism.
Pakistan’s offer of securing the Durand Line boundary against alleged infiltration has been rejected by the Kabul government. Its President Ashraf Ghani is more inclined to lean on India as he sees American interest receding from his country. He also ignores Pakistani claims that the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, might be using terrorists hiding in Afghanistan against Pakistan. As an Islamabad spokesman pointed out recently: “Eight senior commanders and leaders of the Haqqani Network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar were killed in Afghanistan since July this year. This confirms the presence and use of Afghan soil by these groups for terrorist activities.”
Pakistan’s isolation is owed to its inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to eliminate from its soil organizations declared terrorist by the United Nations. If Islamabad’s internal dilemmas cannot be resolved, it will inevitably be left out of the loop as the global change of power relations in the region continues.