Pakistani Officials Say Army Will Not Go After Haqqani Network

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 12:18 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistani officials said Monday that the nation's 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 as saying the military had decided not to target the Haqqani network. He said it is stretched too thin battling militants in northwest Pakistan and “not in a position to undertake an operation at this point” to take on the Haqqanis, who are believed to be based in North Waziristan.

The French news agency quoted an anonymous senior Pakistani security officials 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 military official who said military commanders had decided to resist U.S. demands for an offensive against the Haqqanis. The paper said the decision was made Sunday at a special meeting 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 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The outgoing chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs 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.

Pakistan's government and army have rejected the allegations.

Also Monday, General Kayani canceled a visit to Britain where he was scheduled to meet privately with Defense Minister Liam Fox.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called a rare cross-party conference for Thursday aimed at forming a united front in the face of the American allegations leveled against the armed forces and the ISI. Gilani has condemned the allegations as a “propaganda blitz.”

Underscoring the magnitude of tensions, Pakistani stocks ended nearly three percent lower on Monday.