Dealing with the Haqqanis

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This is with reference to the news “US Senate asks White House to declare Haqqanis terrorist group” (28 Jul). The US Congress has passed a bill in which it has asked the Haqqani network to be declared as a terrorist outfit. The bill will now be referred to the Obama Administration which will be required to ascertain by this group should not be declared as terrorist organisation. The US foreign secretary who will be entrusted with this job is in no mood to defend an organisation that she herself has publicly declared as an outfit that has a terrorist agenda and had links with Pakistan. The big question now is that what will be the implications for Pakistan if the organisation is declared a terrorist one.
Firstly, Pakistan’s official position has been of that of disassociation with the group since long. It has always claimed that because Haqqanis are not anti-Pakistani so no operation will be conducted against them. Secondly, Haqqanis are a considered to be a strategic asset by the country’s military establishment. This certainly puts Pakistan in most difficult situation.
There should be no doubt in any body’s mind that US will not take long to declare Haqannis as terrorist organisation and by doing so will get the open license to go after them with or without Pakistan’s consent any where in Pakistan territory. The drones being most accurate and lethal weapon are a safe method with the US military to target the network. They do not need to carry out a ground operation to go out on suspected positions. All they need to do is to inflict enough damage on the network to make it toothless and harmless.
But the usage of drone attacks – due to collateral damage involved – is radicalising other people who may not have supported the Taliban and the militants.
Drone attacks are having far reaching psychological impact in Pakistani society especially the tribal areas of Pakistan and settled urban population of big cities. Action against Haqqanis shall result in more suicide attacks in urban areas thus spreading terror all over Pakistan. Such a dispensation only helps Americans when they are already planning to withdraw. But the flip side of the coin is that injured and hurt Haqqanis may prove to be more fatal to both sides. Are we prepared?
LT COL (R) MUKHTAR AHMED BUTT
Karachi