Major attack would damage Pakistan alliance: official

ISLAMABAD Tue Nov 8, 2011 12:53pm EST

Related Topics

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Another major attack on American interests in Afghanistan by Pakistan-based militant groups would greatly damage the alliance with Islamabad, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

The official was voicing Washington's frustrations with Pakistan and its failure to tackle safe havens in its territory that militant groups such as the Haqqani network use to launch attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The official specifically referred to an attack in September on an American base in Wardak province that wounded 77 American troops and a 20-hour siege of the U.S. embassy in Kabul that killed nine.

"A spectacular raid or a set of spectacular mis-steps, which are possible, could take the relationship much more in a direction that would be detrimental for both countries," the official said from Islamabad, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the relationship.

Both attacks were blamed on the Haqqanis. The former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral, Mike Mullen, has said the Haqqanis are a "veritable arm" of Islamabad's top spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The Haqqani network is a militant group allied with the Taliban that was started by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who rose to prominence in the 1980s receiving weapons and funds from the CIA and Saudi Arabia to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Although considered to be a part of the larger Taliban umbrella organization headed by Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqanis maintain their own command and control, and lines of operation.

"You need to encircle them, not let them have free travel, prevent them from trying to get into Afghanistan," the U.S. official said.

"Cut them off from funding. Cut them off from information. And let them know that there will be a price to be paid from both the Americans and the Pakistanis if you do what you did at the embassy in Kabul, or in Wardak."

The official said she was not expecting a Pakistani military offensive against the Haqqanis.

Mullen's allegation outraged the Pakistanis, but they later said they do maintain contacts with the Haqqanis -- as do many spy agencies -- but do not support them.

"We have never paid a penny or provided even a single bullet to the Haqqani network," ISI chief Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha told Reuters days after the attacks.

The Pakistanis are equally frustrated with the United States. Pakistani officials often complain that Washington woos Islamabad only when it needs something and that it does not care about Pakistan's other problems, such as its staggering economy, lack of development and disputes with India.

In a two-day visit to Islamabad in October, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pakistan needed to "squeeze" the Haqqanis in a bid to limit their ability to attack NATO troops and bring them to the negotiating table.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
ONTIME wrote:
It’s a lose, lose proposition and now the PRC is involved and helping guide the propaganda and tactics. No doubt soon we will see a drone defense program come into play and it will be a major blow to our combat ability. We need to rid ourselves of this administration and make sure we have people who can spend the time to develop defensive/offensive resources in a way that is more valuble and far reaching…amateur hour is costing us plenty.

Nov 08, 2011 1:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jeebuttjee wrote:
After creating an anti Pakistan, Tajik minority government in Afghanistan and by providing strategic benefits to Pakistan’s adversaries, US should not expect any action by Pakistan in North Waziristan. Pakistan had not offered enormous sacrifices for US, only to see Pakistan’s enemies in occupation of its backyard.

Nov 10, 2011 8:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
MarkDonners wrote:
America has no morality or ethics whatsoever, and not a shred of that laughable “democracy” or “freedom” it keeps bleating about on its controlled propaganda outlets. America’s whole foreign policy for decades has been based on mass murder, enslaved weaker nations and pillage which it always tries to hide with its clown propaganda. America has a racist, facist and terrorist government. There’s no difference between the policies of Hitler’s Germany and the US government along with its Axis of Evil lapdogs in NATO. America tries to hide every crime like the Obama drones (no different than Hitler’s V2 rocket attacks against London) which have murdered thousands of families and children with clownish propaganda like “defending freedom with our USA moral drone defense”, and it’s 100,000 contractors who pillage the country and act as the world’s opium cartel. Now just like Hitler’s protrayal of the 6 million Jews he gassed, America is coming up with its dehumanization propaganda for a whole population of tribal people (Haqqani) so it can once again justify mass murder of innocents on its bloody road to subjugation and pillage of sovereign weak nations. Most americans are so eager to be brainwashed they don’t want to even know that the Taliban tribe is only 10% of Afghanistan’s resistance against foreign barbarians that have brought them chaos and death for a decade. 90% of Afghan resistance is in fact the Pashtun tribe, the majority tribe of Afghanistan who are rightly supported as patriots by most of the Afghan people.

Nov 10, 2011 4:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.