Pakistan’s New Ally

January 19, 2012 --

Pakistan, Stacy Sohn


Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network / photo:

Pakistan is the United States’ most crucial ally in the counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan. Without partnership and cooperation with the Islamic state’s government, the U.S. has a very slim chance of having the intelligence and access to Afghanistan necessary to curb the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist organizations. Yet over the last year, U.S. relations with Pakistan have deteriorated incredibly. After the humiliating blow to their military when American soldiers flew into northern Pakistan undetected and killed Osama bin Laden, a huge cut in aid to the Pakistani military in order to pressure them to hunt militants more earnestly, and finally the NATO air-strike that left twenty-six Pakistani soldiers dead near the border of Afghanistan, one does not wonder why relations between the two countries have gone sour.

However, there is more going on with Pakistan’s military (and their corresponding intelligence agency) than meets the eye. The organization has been linked to events directly contradicting their promised duties against Afghanistan. First was the supposed death order by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence against native journalist Saleem Shahzad, who had been actively writing about militants infiltrating the Pakistani military. Second, the ISI is also charged with helping the Haqqani militants to stage an attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul in September 2011. Although the U.S. has cut funds to the Pakistani military, showing their disapproval of the military’s policies, it has not influenced a departure from their new alliance with the Haqqani’s.

This terrorist organization has become one of the greatest threats to the United States’ national security, as well as its state-building campaign in Afghanistan. This tribal group is led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who over the last forty years has been allied with the CIA, Saudi spy agencies, and Osama bin Ladin. Their tribe turned militant in an effort to expel the Russians occupying Afghanistan in the 1980’s; however, they turned anti-American as soon as the “new occupation” began in 2001. Because of this, Haqqani has strong ties to Al Qaeda and is responsible for at least 250 assassinations, terrorizing civilians in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and murdering American-sympathizers. The New York Times has called them the most deadly insurgent group in Afghanistan.

We can expect no less cooperation from the Pakistani military as we can the Haqqani’s. Throughout the coming year, as the number of American troops decreases in Afghanistan, we will see the Haqqani grow in power as long as their alliance with the Pakistani military continues. The Haqqani will be in the perfect position to take control of northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan as soon as the U.S. withdraws. Therefore, the U.S. must be resilient in hunting both Haqqani and Taliban insurgents before the withdrawal in 2014, and not rely on the Pakistani military to do it. Our alliance with Pakistan needs to be reevaluated. Perhaps from now on, the U.S. must protect its security against terrorist threats in Afghanistan on its own.  No more funding to Pakistan’s military means no more funding for the Haqqani.

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