Pages: 1 2
The Haqqani’s organizational strength is unknown, but it is estimated to be between 5,000 and 20,000 fighters, the uncertainty probably owing to the fact that many could be part-time. It is also unknown how many fighters Haqqani could raise from the local tribes inhabiting North Waziristan. It was reported, however, that Operation Knife Edge has “caused panic” among the tribal militias, and they are gathering in Miranshah, North Waziristan’s capital and Haqqani’s alleged headquarters.
The North Waziristan sanctuary has long been a source of much tension between the United States and Pakistan. American officials have urged the Pakistani government for several years to send its troops into this tribal territory and attack the Haqqani network, like it did to the Islamic terrorist groups in South Waziristan.
But the Pakistani army has continuously refused to do so, saying it is overstretched from those operations, although it somehow has two divisions to spare to send to Saudi Arabia, if that country should ever face internal upheavals or threat of attack (primarily from Iran). The Pakistani government has also constantly stressed that only Pakistan could initiate military action against Islamic extremists on its side of the border.
“Our policy is very clear…Action on Pakistan’s territory is the sole prerogative of Pakistani armed forces,” said a government spokesman in 2008.
But the real reason for Pakistani inaction in going after the Haqqani network is that the Pakistani military sees it as a means to extend its influence into Afghanistan and establish the strategic depth it believes it needs in any future war with India. Its support for the Haqqani network will ensure that Pakistan receives a “stake in any political settlement” in Afghanistan. Just as important, unlike the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda, the Haqqani organization does not attack or want to overthrow the Pakistani state. It carries out its terrorist operations solely on Afghan territory, so it is an Islamic extremist organization the ISI can safely support.
Pakistani leaders most likely believe the United States will not attack because it still needs its help in the War on Terror. NATO supply lines to Afghanistan, for example, run across Pakistani territory. Pakistan also possesses nuclear weapons, which is probably why, when questioned about a possible American incursion, Kiyani answered, “Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan.” They also could be used as a threat, in that they could be “lost” or “sold.”
The Pakistani military, the supporter of the Haqqani network and other terrorist organizations, would be severely discredited by an American invasion that it would not be able to counter. The military has already suffered a huge loss of face among the Pakistani people over the Osama bin Laden incident and the terrorist bombings and attacks on its own army and naval bases. A further shaming may see the Pakistani generals knocked off the prominent perch they occupy in Pakistani society and a more cooperative civilian government empowered that would establish peace with its neighbors and ensure the complete safety of those nuclear weapons.
But more importantly, Pakistan is the headquarters of worldwide jihad. That was made abundantly clear in the case of Osama bin Laden. The threads of many of the world’s terrorist plots also stretch back to Pakistan. So an American invasion of the North Waziristan safe haven would not only improve the security situation in Afghanistan before the scheduled American withdrawal this year by destroying a major terrorist network, but help the anti-terrorism effort worldwide. George W. Bush told the world after 9/11: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” By its perfidious actions, Pakistan has proven it has sided with the terrorists and should now finally face the consequences.
Pages: 1 2