Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

Haqqani Network – A Serious Threat

The closer integration of the Haqqani militant network into the leadership of the Taliban is changing the flow of the Afghan insurgency this year, with the Haqqanis’ senior leader increasingly calling the shots in the Taliban’s offensive, Afghan and American officials believe. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of Haqqani network, orchestrated lethal attacks against Afghanistan while serving as deputy to the Taliban’s supreme leader, following the revelation of Omar’s death.
The Haqqani Network is responsible for some of the highest-profile attacks of the Afghan war, including the June 2011 assault on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, conducted jointly with the Afghan Taliban, and many other major attacks throughout Afghanistan. In September 2011, the Haqqanis participated in a day-long assault against major targets in Kabul, including the US Embassy, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, the Afghan Presidential Palace, and the Afghan National Directorate of Security headquarters and many other attacks.
The US Government in 2012 designated the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization because of its involvement in the Afghan insurgency, attacks on US military and civilian personnel and Western interests in Afghanistan, and because of its ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Of late, the US officials have said that the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pak border pose a continued security threat to the entire South Asian region and beyond. “We all recognize the continued security threat that is posed by the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups that operate inside Pakistan and along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan”, US State Department spokesman John Kirby is cited as saying.
Similarly, Afghan officials believe that the Taliban group and Haqqani network leadership councils are based in Quetta and Peshawar cities of Pakistan from where they stage attacks against Afghan forces and civilians. The escalation in militancy inflicted heavy casualties upon Afghan nation and the civilian death toll increased largely. It is believed that the Haqqani network has been behind many attacks and support the Taliban in terrorist activities.
The formation of Haqqani’s network traces back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of Haqqani’s network, was a leader of one of the more radical mujahedeen factions during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Hizb-e Islami. Jalaluddin joined with the Afghan Taliban as it grew in strength during the 1990s, although schisms between fighters loyal to Haqqani and the Taliban occasionally flared up. Following the collapse of the Taliban government in 2001, the Haqqani family fled to Waziristan and orchestrated deadly attacks against Afghan and US forces.
Haqqani’s network is formed of radical ideologues and shows no inclination towards peace talks. It is believed that violence and bloodshed run in their blood and is part of their ideology. Therefore, their thirst for the blood of innocent civilians will hardly be quenched. Since Sirajuddin Haqqani, who succeeded his father, comes from a radical family and grew up in a fundamental context, as religious seminaries, he will follow his father’s footstep and continue their operation against US and Afghan forces.
Following the December 16 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, which the Taliban said was a revenge assault for operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Pakistani officials announced that they would ban Haqqani’s network. Referring to the massacre of 134 children, the Pakistan’s cabinet member told Reuters, “We have decided to ban the Haqqani network as a step in implementing the National Action Plan devised after the (Peshawar) school attack.”
Pakistan outlawed several militant groups in the past but, ill-fatedly, they have reemerged after regrouping or renaming themselves and continued their terrorist activities within and outside Pakistan.
In 2011, President Obama authorized a volley of drone hits on Haqqani headquarters in the town of Miranshah. The strikes were supposed to be the beginning of a concerted effort to stop them from attacking Americans in Afghanistan, but the campaign was short-lived. Moreover, US drone carried out a rare missile strike in northwest Pakistan outside the country’s remote tribal region on November, 2013 killing six people, including a senior leader of the powerful Haqqani network Maulavi Ahmad Jan. The missiles hit an Islamic seminary in Hangu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that was known to be visited by senior members of the Afghan Haqqani network, an ally of the Afghan Taliban and one of the most feared militant groups battling US troops in the country.
For the past three decades, the Haqqani Network has functioned as an enabler for other groups and as the fountainhead of local, regional and global militancy. It is believed that Afghan nation bore the brunt of casualty inflicted by Haqqani’s network. This terrorist network seems highly dangerous and poses serious threats to Afghanistan. Pakistan will not be immune to its harm either as this network supports many warring factions.

Efforts to neutralize the Haqqani network’s operation in Afghanistan require continuous and aggressive counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan in addition to sustained counterinsurgency operations in key populations in and around the Southeast. A strong trilateral campaign, by Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US, against this terrorist network needs to be launched and their sanctuaries are to be targeted so as to alleviate the militancy.