The Haqqani leverage
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called an all-party conference on Thursday to discuss the security situation in the country, particularly the ongoing tension with the US. Islamabad and Washington seem to be drifting apart on the methodology to end the war on terror in Afghanistan. Currently, the bone of contention is Islamabad's reluctance to attack the Haqqani network, which is causing the US problems in Afghanistan. One cannot miss the war cry of Pakistan's media. Some channels even started playing war songs, an exercise in bolstering public opinion against any possible unilateral action in Pakistan by the US. The discussion has become so lopsided that no one dare disagree with the official position that Islamabad must not heed US demands on attacking the Haqqani network.
But despite the bilateral tension following Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen's accusation of the ISI supporting the Haqqani network, a rupture in US-Pakistan relations does not appear to be on the anvil. Many in Washington are irked by Pakistan's continued support for the Haqqani network against whom Islamabad has resisted any action since the early and mid-2000s when it had launched an offensive against Taliban groups in South Waziristan. The Pakistan army has historically been reluctant to fight the Taliban, as they are seen to represent Pashtun interests. As a result, GHQ Rawalpindi never put its heart into attacking the various Taliban groups. The offensive in South Waziristan during the early and mid-2000s was essentially to gain a stronger bargaining position. Therefore, every major offensive in South Waziristan, including against Taliban leaders like Nek Mohammad, Baitullah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud and others, was followed by a peace agreement that usually irked Washington. Pakistan's complaint, on the other hand, was that the US did not cooperate in fighting the Taliban hurting the Pakistani state.
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