Pakistan Not to Launch Haqqani Offensive

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 4:03 pm (UTC-5)
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News reports quote Pakistani officials as saying the military will not launch an offensive against the terrorist Haqqani network, despite growing pressure from Washington to do so.

CNN quoted an unnamed Pakistani military official Monday as saying the military has decided not to target the Haqqani network because it is stretched too thin battling militants in northwest Pakistan. The Haqqanis are believed to be based in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The French news agency has cited an anonymous senior Pakistani security official who said he did not think there were “indicators” the military would go after the Haqqani network. He also said the military needs to consolidate gains against militants elsewhere along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Earlier Monday, a Pakistani newspaper quoted an unnamed official who said military commanders had decided to resist U.S. demands during a special meeting Sunday chaired by Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

Washington has accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network and its attacks against U.S. targets in Afghanistan, including this month’s assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Pakistan’s government and army have rejected the allegations.

The outgoing chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told a Senate hearing last week that the Haqqani network acts as a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani spy agency, and that its fighters planned and conducted the assaults on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and on a NATO base in Afghanistan earlier this month.

Meanwhile, General Kayani canceled a visit to Britain to meet privately with Defense Minister Liam Fox, while Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called a rare cross-party conference for Thursday to form a united front in the face of the U.S. allegations leveled against the military and the ISI.

Gilani has condemned the allegations as a “propaganda blitz.” He also asked Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who is attending the U.N. General Assembly session in New York, to “forcefully present Pakistan’s point of view” when she addresses the world leaders Tuesday.

Underscoring the degree of tension, Pakistani stocks ended nearly three percent lower on Monday.