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'Haqqani network receives protection from ISI'

September 20, 2011 11:39 IST
The Haqqani network, which is blamed for the recent attack on American embassy in Kabul, receives protection and support from the Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence, an influential think-tank has told American lawmakers.

"They receive protection and support from facets of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, which continues to drag its feet on taking action against the Haqqanis because they see the network as a useful proxy to expand their influence and establish footholds in Afghanistan," said Frank J Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at the George Washington University.

"Because the Haqqani network is seen by parts of Pakistan's government as a valuable ally, the government has refused to take action in the tribal regions of Waziristan which creates safe havens, not only for the Haqqanis but for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, with which the Haqqanis are intimately involved," Cilluffo told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing last week.

Noting that the network poses a significant threat to US and India, he observed that "strangely, and inadvisably" it has not been designated a foreign terrorist group.

It is believed that the group is a powerful insurgent force in Afghanistan, one that targets coalition forces as well as Indian investments and interests in the country, he said.

Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani, is the current leader of the network. The group originated in the 1970s and has formed significant ties with Al Qaeda and Taliban in the years since its inception.

Today, it is operationally based in North Waziristan, the remote border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Cilluffo said Lashkar-e-Tayiba too receives support from the Pakistani establishment.

"Before the United States can take actions to assume a lighter footprint (especially in Afghanistan), it is paramount that we hold Pakistan accountable to take action against the extremist forces festering under their watch," he said.

"The litmus test here is whether Pakistan will sever its historic ties to its proxies, namely LeT in India and the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan. While we acknowledge the fact that there are some factions in Pakistan that will never cut these ties, we must also realise that some in Pakistan recognise the threat these groups pose," he said.

"Those individuals are motivated to cooperate with the US, and we should continue to do all we reasonably can to encourage and support their efforts. This is not only in the best interests of the US and India, but also of Pakistan," Cilluffo added.

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