Ten days after Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. drone strike, a leading member of the Haqqani network, Naseeruddin Haqqani, was reportedly shot dead on Sunday at Barakahu on the outskirts of Islamabad. While the police did not comment on the incident, news reports said he was shot dead by gunmen while returning from a mosque.
The TTP has confirmed that Naseeruddin was killed and his funeral took place at Miramshah in North Waziristan on Monday afternoon.
Naseeruddin, said to be in his 30s, was the eldest son of the founder of the network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who heads it, though it is mainly run by his other son Sirajuddin after he suffered from a stroke. Naseeruddin was arrested in 2010 at the behest of the U.S., news reports said, and he was taken to a safe house for interrogation. The TTP had alleged that security agencies were behind the killing. He was on the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions list of individuals whose assets were frozen and against whom there is a travel ban and an arms embargo as well. He was a fundraiser for the outfit and often travelled to West Asia. The Afghan-led Haqqani network based in North Waziristan mainly targets American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan defence forces. The network is reportedly close to the Inter-Services Intelligence though the latter has often denied this.
Though led independently, the Haqqani network is close to the Afghan Taliban and the U.S. maintains that the dreaded outfit is responsible for some major terror strikes in Afghanistan on the CIA and the siege of the U.S. embassy. None from the government has confirmed Naseeruddin’s death.
While the Pakistan government had said that the drone strike killing Mehsud scuttled the peace talks with the TTP, it had not reacted to Naseeruddin’s death. Pakistan has released several Afghan Taliban leaders including Mullah Baradar to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan. However, the Afghan High Peace Council and President Hamid Karzai have said Baradar was still not a free man. A delegation of the Council was expected to visit Baradar in Pakistan. It remains to be seen if Naseeruddin’s death on Pakistan soil will impact Islamabad’s facilitation of the Afghan peace process.