The words that Sirajuddin Haqqani used

Published: September 30, 2011

Sirajuddin Haqqani's recent interview with the Reuters left one pondering over the motives of the group.

It couldn’t have been a coincidence. As I was surfing the internet today for my daily dose of khabrein, two stories appeared side by side. The first story was about the growing suspicions of theUS government that the Haqqani network had links to Islamabad.

[[http://tribune.com.pk/multimedia/videos/263375/]]

Yawn! On the not-so-other hand, the second story was about a recent statement of Sirajuddin Haqqani, in which he claimed that the group was no longer active in Pakistan. In his interview with Reuters, he claimed:

 “Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure in Afghanistan besides the Afghan people. Senior military and police officials are with us.”

If one carefully looks at the first sentence, it becomes evident that Haqqani is trying to dissociate his group from Pakistan. And if I were to venture a guess, he is hinting at something more fundamental than dislocation from Pakistani territory. Rather, he is trying to de-link his group from the Pakistani state. In the context of mounting US pressure on Pakistan, it is quite possible that this might be a diversionary tactic orchestrated by elements in the Pakistani state.

There is another possible motive behind this sentence. It signals that Sirajuddin Haqqani now wants the Haqqani group to be seen as a serious player, which is based firmly in Afghanistan. Traditionally, the Haqqani group has acted more like a service provider for more well known groups like the Al Qaeda, Quetta shura and TTP and had no clear political ambition besides maintaining their hold over Khost and Paktia. In his second sentence, Sirajuddin Haqqani’s allusion to the Afghan people reveals an intention to portray the group as a legitimate, albeit quasi-political entity.

The last sentence in the extract confirms this. By referring to senior military and police officials, the group has tried to highlight the tenuous hold of Karzai’s regime and NATO forces over the country, and it fits well when seen in light of the brazen attacks in Kabul. However, that being said, it is interesting that the group has shirked away from claiming responsibility for the attacks. In this context, Sirajuddin says:

“For some reasons, I would not like to claim that fighters of our group had carried out the recent attack on US embassy and NATO headquarters. Our central leadership, particularly senior members of the shura, suggested I should keep quiet in future if the US and its allies suffer in future.”

His choice of words is particularly interesting. Instead of out rightly denying his group’s role in the attacks, he merely states that he would not like to claim its role. Whether this was a tacit admission of involvement is anyone’s guess.

Further in the interview, he tries to hint that it is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s forces that are active in attacks against the American forces. This confirms our suspicion that the group is trying to tone down its anti-America rhetoric and come to the negotiating table along with the Taliban. Simultaneously, it is also trying to portray Hekmatyaar’s forces as a rogue element in the equation, probably to sideline them in any post-draw down arrangement.

The next few months should be particularly interesting as the political hyenas scramble for their share of the carcass left behind by the US forces. However, any viable political settlement is unlikely to take place until the domestic players eschew violence and try to come to a reasonable consensus. Secondly, it is equally necessary that the political and military elite of countries liken America, Pakistan, India and Iran stop looking at this issue from the prism of geopolitics and abandon any cock-n-bull fantasies of strategic breadth, depth or height.

amit.julka

Amit Julka

A student from India currently pursuing his Masters in South Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He blogs at thegoofysufi.blogspot.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • zshan

    wow amit… u read between the lines and manage to be published as well! Recommend

  • Ben

    You are reading too much between the lines. He never said os any association. He only siad he was hiding there. Twist twist everywhere. Recommend

  • http://pioussluts.wordpress.com EoH
  • gothmog

    The writer doesn’t have anything to back his allegations. This is pure speculation at best.
    @EoH One source? You have really got to do better than this to be taken seriouslyRecommend

  • Cynical

    It’s too much of a coincidence that Haqqani made the statement the same day US accuse Pakistann of patronising his group.Recommend

  • cyrus

    sirajuddin is only buying time, waiting for the 2014 US withdraw. in their minds, they are probably thinking, who is going to have the last laugh? very typical pakistan two-faced delusional strategy.Recommend

  • Doctor

    @ EoH – your blog has some interesting articles but you resort to name calling and making things up. I too used to think Indians interfered in Baluchistan but there’s simply no evidence. When you find it, let us know. It’ll be something Pakistan can take to the UN. Until then, it’s best to shut up.Recommend

  • Amjad

    @Doctor: You obviously aren’t Pakistani- otherwise you would know there is plenty of evidence that India is involved in criminal acts all over Pakistan; not only in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but also Sind and Punjab. A lot of the violence on the Western border is done by the Indians through their lackeys in Afghanistan. The fact that you are unaware of this only tells me that you are an Indian because any Pakistani who has a relative in the services will tell you about weapons and explosives originating from India.Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @EoH: Ha ha ha! Just read in your diagram that India is planning to indoctrinate Pakistani youth in Hinduism to prepare them for the next step—a takeover by Taliban! If this a new branch of Taliban, the Hindu Taliban? :)

    @Amjad: You seem to believe that to be a Pakistani one just needs to believe anti-India opinions, and not bother about facts. You also assume that all Pakistanis “have a relative in the services”. Are there any facts about the Indian involvement that can be put in a dossier and handed over to the Indian embassy and the UN? If yes, please do. If not, please shut up and stop maligning the credibility of Pakistan by criticizing perfectly rational viewpoints from @Doctor. Recommend