Pakistan plays ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ in Afghanistan

The Pakistanis are dangling a settlement for the Afghan war to the US. The bait is the Haqqanis, according to The New York Times. That’s right, the same Haqqanis who are the closest to al Qaeda:

What the Pakistanis can offer is their influence over the Taliban network of Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, whose forces American commanders say are the most lethal battling American and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

From their stronghold in Pakistan’s tribal area of North Waziristan, the Haqqanis exert sway over large parts of southern Afghanistan and have staged major terrorist attacks in Kabul, American officials say.

They are close allies of Al Qaeda. But they also have long ties to Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies that have protected them inside Pakistani territory.

In return for trying to rein in the Haqqanis, Pakistan will be looking for a friendly Afghanistan and for ways to stem the growing Indian presence there, Pakistani and American officials said.

In briefings last week with reporters at his army headquarters, the usually reticent General Kayani repeated his offer at NATO to play a constructive role, while making it clear Pakistan was seeking broad influence in southern Afghanistan. The Haqqani network would be one of Pakistan’s strongest levers to do that.

And some officials in the Obama administration are considering this a viable option:

American officials said Washington was still debating the contours of any negotiated solution. But a baseline for Pakistan, they said, would be for it to engineer a separation between the Haqqani network and the Qaeda leadership.

One strand of thinking within the Obama administration calls for allowing the Pakistanis to keep the Haqqanis as part of Pakistan’s sphere of influence in southern Afghanistan, but only if Pakistan forces the Haqqanis to break with Al Qaeda and to push militants out of its areas, an American official said.

And finally, al Qaeda would be given safe passage out of the region.

According to a Pakistani military official, the Pakistanis would first have to resolve where Qaeda fighters would go and whether they might be given safe passage to Yemen or another location.

Read the whole thing. And who said the Pakistani Army and General Kiyani were no longer interested in maintaining strategic depth in Afghanistan by using the Taliban.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Jimmy says:

    You are absolutely right, Bill! Pakistan is double-dealing the world on Taliban and Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan peace and what not… I hope US and NATO do not do any deal with Pakistan which appears to bring in peace and an exit strategy in the short term but becomes a huge disaster in the long run. If this deal is allowed, Pakistan’s nefarious designs will run amok in Aghanistan and then into middle east and central asia. No one will be able to stop its Jihadi factory after such a tremendous diplomatic victory.

  • MalangJan says:

    According to Kamran Shafi of Pakistan Dawn newspaper, Pakistan Army strategic depth is its strategic death. Morally bankrupt, blaming Hindu Indian for all the problems in the world, Pakistan army is selling & drinking blood of Pashtun Afghans since last 30 years. General Kiani is not comfortable with 250K strong & equiped Afghan army. Why would be Pakistan army interested in peace in Afghanistan? They are addicted to making money in Afghan war & want to see Afghans weak to their advantage. This is what is left of Islamic brotherhood & Islam between Pakistan & Afghanistan. No wonder 98% of Afghans(including Taliban according to Mulla Zaeef) hate Pakistan.
    This will be greatest joke of our life time that Pakistan Army will want to help peace in Afghanistan. They are simply not made for this & will be total loosers like they are anyway. To oblidge US, sooner or later they will have to fight in North Wazirstan. But will they kill only innocent peoples fleeing war zone or Haqanis, Bahader & Nazir. In the past army operations they have only killed innocent people. They have’t killed sinlge know terrorist leader.
    Pashtun people are of the opinion that Drones strikes are far more superior & effective than all of Pakistan & its armies against the terrorist leaders. Drones can bring Taliban to negotiation table if the need may be. Buying any help for peace process from Pakistan militant-military alliance is like scumbing to terrorists & its protectors & benifactors.

  • Charley says:

    If this is the denouement, why did we waste tax money and US lives in this war? Was it all for nothing? The hated Taliban would come back, and AQ gets safe passage. What a grotesque ending.
    If this is the plan, we should have pulled all troops out last summer, instead of sending 30k more in.

  • Spooky says:

    OCD in me, but you’re missing an ending punctuation at the end of the post.
    Pakistan is also offering to train the Afghan National Army, which not only plays into strategic depth, but perhaps more profound implications…like setting up a sister military republic to their north (in effect, a veritable Anschluss between Afghanistan and Pakistan) under a Pashtun-Punjabi duel-dominated military. The US would go for it too, because Pakistan would pick off recruits who would otherwise serve the Taliban (and said potential recruits would rather be under fellow Pashtun officers of Pakistan Army than the Tajiks in their own forces).
    India has no choice but to make a counter offer. Just what kind of counter offer is anyones guess…

  • m3fd2002 says:

    The writing is on the wall. The Pakistani’s probably realize that the Afghani’s, coupled with massive western and Indian assistance, are beginning to get their stuff together. The US is pressuring Afghani Taliban elements in their core area’s, and are simultaneously pivoting to address the Haqqani network. If the Pakistani’s indeed flip on the Haqqani’s it would be decisive. A prosperous Afghanistan doesn’t pose a major strategic threat to the Pakistani’s, on the contrary it would benefit Pakistan as a whole.

  • t says:

    Why doesn’t the CIA strike the ISI and the haqqani’s? Seems to me the ISI plays the CIA.

  • Pakistaniat says:

    Somehow Pakistan and India both need to be involved in training Afghan troops. The worst mistake would be to allow spheres of influence in different regions of the country by India/Iran/Pakistan. Besides reducing mistrust between Pak/Indian forces one may also test whether a similar setup is possible for disputed Kashmir.

  • Victor says:

    Did I read it right: “Some US officials are hoping that Haqqani will cut of ties with Al-Queda and we will live happily ever after”.
    I was hoping that common sense and logical thinking would be a requirement to become an official of the GOTUS. Apparently it is not.


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