US gives up lobbying 'defiant' Pak for action against Haqqani network in Wazirastan

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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Washington, Aug 13(ANI): The U.S. military has stopped lobbying Pakistan to help root out one of the biggest militant threats to coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials have said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, until recently, the U.S. had been pressing Islamabad to launch major operations against the Haqqani network, but military officials now claim that it would be counterproductive.

The Haqqani network, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin, is one of the three main factions of the Afghan Taliban, which operates on both sides of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The group is blamed for several daring attacks on coalition and Afghan forces, and is allied with both Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

U.S. officials believe that elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency are continuing to protect the network to help it retain influence in Afghanistan once the American troops eventually leaves the country.

This was also noticeable during US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen's visit to Pakistan last month, where he chose not to raise the issue - a departure from the message U.S. defense officials delivered earlier this year.

The Obama administration had intensified the pressure for Pakistani operations in North Waziristan in May after the attempted bombing of New York's Times Square was linked to militants in Pakistan.

The officials also say that making more demands to Pakistan will only strain U.S.-Pakistani relations.

They now argue that the only way to convince Islamabad to take action in North Waziristan is to weaken the Haqqani network so much that Pakistan sees little value in maintaining an alliance with the group.

According to military officials, they have intensified their own operations, which have significantly reduced the network's ability to mount attacks in Kabul and outside their traditional tribal areas of eastern Afghanistan.

"A task force of elite troops assigned to target the Haqqani network conducted 19 operations in April, 11 in May, 20 in June and 23 in July. The high pace continued in the first week of August with seven operations," a senior official said. (ANI)

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