Pakistan military has “rebuffed” an Obama Administration demand to crack down on key Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, known for giving shelter to top al-Qaeda leaders in his stronghold of North Waziristan, introducing a new unease in relationship with the U.S.
A letter in this regard was recently delivered by the U.S. embassy to the Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. The issue was followed up by General David Petraeus, Commander of the U.S. Central Command in his meeting with General Kayani on Monday, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Gen. Kayani in his response in the form of a two-page letter, the daily said, is believed to have argued that the Pakistan Army’s hands were already full and that right now they were concentrating more on home grown terrorists rather than on Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan Army considers Haqqani as an asset than a threat as he is fighting mostly in Afghanistan, whereas for the U.S. he is the most potent force fighting its troops in Afghanistan.
Haqqani, son of Afghan Taliban warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, is also a prominent member of Taliban led by Mullah Omar and has anywhere between 4,000 to 12,000 fighters under his command.
The daily said the rebuff to Obama Administration could be also based on Islamabad’s fear that under the new Afghan policy, the U.S. would start withdrawing from July 2011 and leave a power vacuum in Afghanistan. It considers Haqqani and his control of large areas of Afghan territory vital to Islamabad in the jostling for influence that will pit Pakistan, India, Russia, China and Iran against one another in the post-American Afghan arena, the daily said quoting Pakistani officials.
“Pakistan is particularly eager to counter the growing influence of its archenemy, India, which is pouring $1.2 billion in aid into Afghanistan,” Pakistani officials told the daily.
Keywords: Taliban, Sirajuddin Haqqani, al-Qaeda, North Waziristan, Pakistan Army chief, Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command, New York Times, Pakistan military, Obama Administration