Counter-Terrorism: Ass Kissing Your Way To Power

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July 7, 2011:  Afghan governors of provinces on the Pakistani border are becoming more outspoken in their criticism of the Pakistani army and intelligence services (ISI). That's because the Pakistani army has been unwilling to go after the last terrorist stronghold on its territory (North Waziristan), and continues to deny this support of terrorists. These Pakistan based killers have tried to kill these Afghan border governors, so this criticism of Pakistan is personal for the governors, and, literally, a matter of life and death. For years, the governors, and other senior government, kept these misgivings to themselves. That was because the Afghan government was led to believe that it could negotiate some cooperation (in containing the Islamic terrorists) from Pakistan. Didn't work out, and all that came from Pakistan was lies.

Meanwhile, the list of terrorist bad guys is changing. Al Qaeda is fading fast in Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially since the death of leader Osama bin Laden. An ally of al Qaeda in Pakistan, the Haqqani Network, is now seen as a larger threat, especially in Afghanistan. Based in North Waziristan (and adjacent areas). Haqqani has been at it for over two decades, and has long worked with Pakistani intelligence (ISI). Haqqani has been discreet, where the Taliban have not, and this has earned the group a measure of respect from Pakistani politicians and military commanders. Haqqani does not carry out terror attacks in Pakistan.

The Haqqani Network is a family business led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan from the eastern part of Afghanistan. He is now in his 60s, and runs a tight ship. He was a major warlord during the 1980s war with the Soviets, and a major player in the civil war that broke out after the Soviets left in 1989. But he quickly saw the power of the Taliban (being an Islamic conservative himself), and joined the Taliban shortly after he encountered them. But Haqqani kept his organization separate, and his head down. He carries out terror attacks mainly in eastern Afghanistan. Considered something of an ass-kisser (for its deference to ISI) by other Islamic radicals, Haqqani has survived and grown in strength.

Haqqani has over 5,000 men under arms (but many are part-time fighters) and several hundred suicide bombers in training or ready to go. Haqqani can call on over 20,000 armed tribesmen in North Waziristan and adjacent areas. Again, these are largely part-timers, and have to be convinced to gather and fight. A threatened Pakistani Army invasion of North Waziristan would be convincing, and that has kept the Pakistani soldiers out so far. The only government forces in the area are the Frontier Constabulary, a border guard recruited from the local tribes. These guys guard the Afghan border in North Waziristan, but have an understanding with Haqqani men sneaking into or out of Afghanistan; they leave them alone. The Haqqani gunmen return the favor.

 


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