May 6, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3812

Report in Pakistani Daily: Haqqani Network Warns "Homegrown Pakistani Taliban' against 'Sabotaging' a Fragile Peace Deal [Brokered by Pakistani Army]"

May 6, 2011
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 3812

The Haqqani Network, working in cooperation with Al-Qaeda, is the second largest terrorist group among the Afghan Taliban. It has been carrying out attacks on U.S and NATO troops in Afghanistan with the support of the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Haqqani Network operates out of its operational base in North Waziristan, a Pakistani sanctuary for militants.

Throughout 2010, the U.S. urged Pakistan to conduct a military operation against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in North Waziristan, but Pakistan consistently refused the U.S. request to attack the militants. However, at one point, the Pakistani military began creating a new sanctuary for the Haqqani Network in Kurram Agency, one of the seven Pakistani tribal districts situated along the Afghan border. A peace deal, ostensibly for the purpose of ending a long-standing conflict between the Shi'a Muslims and the Taliban-backed Sunni Muslims in Kurram Agency, was brokered by the Pakistani army.

This has given birth to some conflict of interests between the Haqqani Network and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban), which has targeted Shi'a Muslims throughout Pakistan. A new report in a leading Pakistani newspaper notes that Haqqani Network chief Sirajuddin Haqqan recently tried to convince TTP Emir Hakimullah Mehsud not to sabotage the peace deal in Kurram Agency by continuing attacks on Shi'a Muslims there.

It should be noted that Hakimullah Mehsud and some Sunni jihadist organizations based in Pakistan's Punjab province are more ideologically committed, are followers of Al-Qaeda's ideology, and have been attacking the Pakistani security forces. The conflict between the TTP and the Haqqani Network was tested recently when Hakimullah Mehsud refused to release former Pakistani intelligence official Colonel Imam, who was captured by the TTP and later killed under the direct oversight of the TTP Emir.

Following are excerpts from the newspaper report:[1]

"The Haqqani Network – the most influential group among the Afghan militants – has warned the homegrown Pakistani Taliban against 'sabotaging' a fragile peace deal that it helped broker between the Sunnis and Shias in Kurram Agency.

"Associates of both, the Haqqani Network and the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said that tensions between their two groups had been mounting in recent months on various issues, especially on the Kurram peace accord.

"Things have now reached a very awkward point … [Sirajuddin] Haqqani [chief of Haqqani Network] has said some very strong words to Hakimullah: 'Stop it yourself or my men will make you stop it,' said an affiliate of the Afghan commander based in North Waziristan.

"Sources in the tribal areas said the rare warning by Haqqani to Hakimullah came after militants from the TTP ignored 'softer' requests earlier and kept attacking the Shias in Kurram in a direct threat to the peace deal.

"The relationship between the two groups has been souring rapidly in recent months after Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video early this year showing the shooting of a retired Pakistani intelligence official [Colonel Imam] thought to be the Afghan Taliban's godfather.

"The TTP killed Ameer Sultan Tarar, alias Colonel Imam [former Pakistani intelligence official], ten months after he was kidnapped, ignoring a call from both the Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani. 'That is where the two got in trouble with each other,' the source said.

"[A media] report recently mentioned the friction between the two groups, saying it could provide an opportunity to the Pakistan military to exploit the falling unity if it wanted to launch a limited offensive in North Waziristan.

"The U.S. administration has, for some time now, been pushing Pakistan to send the military to the region bordering Afghanistan. Pakistan's security establishment backed the warring sects of Kurram, to enter into a peace deal early this year after four years of bloodshed that saw 4,000 men dying on both sides.

"The militant group led by veteran Afghan jihadi commander, Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani, was also supporting the accord because the Kurram region provided swift access into areas in Afghanistan called the Khost Bowl.

"When the deal was being discussed, there were reports that Pakistan's security establishment wanted a peaceful Kurram for the network to launch more lethal attacks inside Afghanistan, ahead of a proposed withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces.

"The Haqqani Network, however, is now angry at the TTP because its affiliates are not honoring the deal, according to multiple sources in the region.

"TTP commander from Kurram, Fazal Saeed, is now planning attacks on Shias after initially announcing support towards the deal, locals in the Upper Kurram said.

"Another Mehsud-appointed commander for Orakzai, Maulvi Noor Jamal alias Mullah Toofan, is also one of the militant leaders behind the recent attacks on Shias who were travelling on a road that links Parachinar with Peshawar. 'All this has annoyed Haqqani,' an associate of the Afghan commander, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune."


[1] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 2, 2011. The text of the report has been lightly edited for clarity.

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