Better to negotiate with Haqqanis
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
On July 16, 2012, the House of Representatives of United States has passed a bill presented by Senator Richard Burr. The bill in fact is a step towards mounting pressure on President Obama to declare Haqqani network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It bounds the US Secretary of State, to report to Congress within thirty days, whether the Haqqani network meets the criteria to be “designated a foreign terrorist organization and if not, to explain why.” Apparently, this is a new move by US lawmakers either to pressurize Haqqanis for coming to the US terms or else to pursue the larger agenda of AfPak policy.
In the pursuance of its dual policy about the warlords and Taliban of Afghanistan, US through its spying network (CIA), has been undertaking secret talks with these organizations in the past for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan, whereas, on the other, US lawmakers are taking such extreme measures, which amounts to pushing the Haqqanis to the walls. The secret negotiations undertaken between U.S and the representatives of this network, however, could not make headway, mainly because of former’s stringent and egotistical approach of pursuing its own objectives towards the group. Failure of any break through, inflamed United States to impose sanctions on some leaders of the organization, but not on to the organization as a whole, which the House of Representatives is now pushing for.
The Chairman of the US House’s Permanent Select Committee, on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, says that, “The Haqqani Network is engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and is the single largest threat for IED’s our soldiers face in that country. They actively plot and kill U.S and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path. To better protect the lives of US soldiers, now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk. There is no good reason that this group has not yet been designated.” On their part, the Haqqanis and Taliban of Afghanistan consider U.S and NATO as the invading forces thus, are fighting against them until they are pulled out from Afghanistan. In the opinion of these two groups, they are fighting for their freedom from occupiers, thus, their actions are but a natural reaction, very much covered in the UN Charter. The new moves of the US lawmakers would have many regional and global implications. Instead of engaging such organizations through dialogue, such bills and sanctions may prove counterproductive and provocative. US must understand that, this network is well-organized and time-tested group of warlords in Afghanistan, which once had all out US backing. While tracing the history of the Haqqanis, one would learn that, Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the key leaders of the group, are from Jadran tribe of Paktia province of Afghanistan and have roots in North Waziristan too. The group has strong roots and active fighting members in six provinces of Afghanistan, where its armed bands are fighting the US and NATO forces. Under its founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, this armed group had played a significant role in defeating the former Soviet forces in Afghanistan, of course backed by US and Pakistan, indeed, to give US, the status of a sole super power.
US lawmakers consider that after declaring Haqqanis a terrorist organization, US would be in a position to freeze the assets of the network, put a ban on the US visits of all those having any linkage with it. US would also be in a position to prosecute those assisting or aiding the network any way. Indeed, passage of this bill is a direct threat for the network and an indirect threat for Pakistan. Indeed, for years US has been accusing Pakistan for its alleged linkages with Haqqanis. U.S misperceives that, Haqqanis are a strategic asset of Pakistani security establishment, for any future influence in Afghanistan.
On its part, Pakistan has been emphasizing the US for a political solution of Afghan issue, as it failed to resolve the problem through military means. Pakistan played a great role in bringing Haqqanis, US and Taliban and US closer to each other for the political dialogue, with the sole aim of establishing stability in Afghanistan. Instead of antagonism, US should appreciate the role, Pakistan played towards a political solution by negotiating with all factions including Haqqanis, rather provoking these groups to further destabilise Afghanistan for the reasons better known to the strategists of this super power. For its own stakes, U.S should go for negotiations with all Afghan groups and warlords fighting against it in Afghanistan. Political settlement through negotiations and talks with Haqqanis and Taliban would enable an honourable exit of NATO and US forces from Afghanistan. Such a process would also guarantee a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, if at all U.S decides to leaves it.