Is the Pakistani military really targeting the Haqqani Network?

Pakistani military officials are now claiming that the North Waziristan operation, which began on June 15, will target the Haqqani Network. Sorta. Reuters reports on a press briefing with a general and government official. A cursory read of the report might lead you to conclude that yes, the Pakistani military is now indeed serious about squaring off against the Haqqanis. But see the following excerpt from the Reuters report:

But Major General Asim Bajwa said all civilian residents of North Waziristan, a mountainous region on the Afghan border, had left and the military would target anyone still there.

“They cannot escape,” he told a press briefing. “It’s very clear that those who left inside are only terrorists.”

Nervous laughter rippled around the room as Bajwa faced aggressive questioning about whether the military was pursuing the Haqqanis or allied Taliban commanders who stage attacks inside Afghanistan but leave Pakistani forces alone.

Although Bajwa did not refer specifically to the Haqqanis, he promised that the military would go after “terrorists of all hue and color” and there would be no discrimination between Taliban factions.

Abdul Qadir Baloch, the minister for states and frontier regions and a close ally of the prime minister, was more blunt.

“Haqqani or no Haqqani … no one who tries to terrorize in Pakistan will be allowed. Our government has been saying time and again that the soil of Pakistan will not be allowed to be used against anyone,” he said.

Note how General Bajwa can’t even bring himself to name the Haqqani Network. He does promise to target “terrorists of all hue and color,” but if you don’t consider the Haqqanis to be terrorists, that solves that problem.

Also note how Minister Baloch claims that “no one who tries to terrorize in Pakistan will be allowed” [emphasis mine].

That carefully crafted statement gets to the heart of the “good Taliban” vs. “bad Taliban” issue. The Haqqanis (and Hafiz Gul Bahadar’s Taliban faction) are good Taliban because they don’t advocate “terrorizing” the Pakistani state. And they were given ample time to clear out of North Waziristan before the military launched its operation.

The simple reality is that if the Pakistani military and intelligence service were serious about dismantling the Haqqani Network, they wouldn’t need to launch a massive operation to do so. The top leaders of the Haqqani Network are known to operate in Pakistan’s major cities, and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate knows just where those leaders reside.

As we’ve noted at the onset of the operation, the real target of this operation is the “bad Taliban” – the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and “foreigners.”

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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  • Birbal Dhar says:

    What makes it worse is that the “Good” Taliban also protect the “Bad” Taliban as well. When a terrorist state like Pakistan creates groups like these, it is a recipe for disaster, which the country is now facing with terrorist attacks almost every week. This so call North Waziristan offensive is basically a bad joke by the Pakistanis, who want to portray to America that they’re getting the bad guys. America are not fooled by the Pakistanis and know in reality the Pakistanis are not serious in destroying all the Taliban. No wonder Pakistan is a dump.

  • pre-Boomer Marine brat says:

    They are not going to dismantle their primary instrument for “keeping India out of Afghanistan.” No way, no how.
    Same with the LeT.
    I might not all come down to “India”, but most of it does.
    IMHO, Churchill was right, back in the 30s. India was not ready for independence. Not yet.

  • Sonny Afridi says:

    When will USA/NATO or its Afghan “allies” go after the BLA, TTP (Fazlullah) who are engaged in acts of terrorism against the Pakistan state?

  • Gaurav says:

    A very nice article written on Pakistani Military and Haqqani Network. keep it up Mr Roggio

  • Arjuna says:

    It seems that the Haqqani’s friends Imran Khan and Hamid Gul are getting worried. According to The News:
    “In an informal talk with this correspondent [Ansar Abassi], former DG ISI Lt Gen (R) Hamid Gul said that according to his information the military is not going for an all out operation in NWA. Gul also warned that such an operation in NWA would be disastrous for Pakistan.
    Imran Khan believes that such an operation would be “suicidal” for Pakistan. In an earlier statement, Imran Khan had asked Army Chief General Raheel to desist from launching military operation in NWA. Imran Khan warned that it might lead to the 1971 like situation.”
    I believe it’s suicidal for Pakistan NOT to root the militants out root and branch and disarm them. However, the leaders are so long gone into Kunar and Nuristan in unpoliced AFG (or Pakistani cities, as Bill points out) it’s not funny, so this is mainly a refugee-creating, punitive action for show (and the 300 million extra Carl Levin US taxpayer dollars) absent leadership targeting outside the Tribal Regions.

  • Joy says:

    @pre boomer
    Their is a pakistani problem and it has nothing to do with India….it would exist regardless of india existing or not.
    Your comment sounds like saying the entire islamist problem exists because of US and Israel. The entire world’ s radical islamist problems would get solved if only we can rectify these two countries.
    Also I could never figure this out ….pakistan to solve its percieved or real grievances against india has an entitlement to take afganistan to gutters.
    Afganistan somehow is not a sovereign country and it can be endlessly fiddled with and kept in perpetual instability by pakistan just because the pakis have a problem with a third country.
    Dont know if churchil had anything to say about this.

  • JustJim says:

    The PakMil will never target the Haqqani network, because the ISI will make sure all of the Haqqani’s are well clear of any actual operation, just as they’ve done for years. The Pak government is only making a public showing for the US, and as previously stated here – no one except the truly naive believe ANY of the Haqqani will even come close to being harrassed. The Haqqani network thrive on the largesse of the Pak Government, ISI and military in exactly the same manner that bin Laden did and most of the other Taliban senior leadership do now. Its sad that the current seemingly witless and definitely impotent American administration wont actually allow anything to be done – I guess we’d rather set Afghanistan on the same pathway we set Iraq, that being leave all the truly evil actors alive and well and let them wait us out. Lets askt ISIL or ISIS, whatever the term du jour, how that grand strategy worked for them.

  • Marcus says:

    pre-Boomer Marine brat
    “They are not going to dismantle their primary instrument for “keeping India out of Afghanistan.” No way, no how.”
    I assume you mean economic investment by private companies

  • zafar says:

    Joy just check how many consulates india is operating in Afghanistan. what kind of consular assistance is being provided to afghans at Jalalabad and Qandahar. These roosters will come back home to roost. India must realize that. Rest its not as peace loving country as world believe them to be. South asia held hostage by India not by Pakistan. India has problems with all its neighbors, Pakistan only one being able to put up a response of some kind. We wish India to be a great power not big power. Big power comes from hegemony and brow beating smaller neighbors where as greatness comes with more tolerance and understanding.

  • Moose says:

    You’re absolutely right. Pakistan has been using India as an excuse to attack Afghanistan for over 30 years. Interesting that the international community hasn’t labeled Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism for its terrorist acts in Afghanistan alone.

  • Aeronaut says:

    This is Pakistan’s own fight, being fought with our own resources as the US sits as a spectator. Pakistan is not a superpower nor do we have endless quantitative easing going on to print money for war.
    We are not only having to fight in North Waziristan, but also having to deal with a flood of half a million IDPs, which marks the 3rd IDP crisis since 2009. Collectively over 1 million Pakistanis have become IDPs since 2009.
    The target of this operation is to destroy TTP’s IED manufacturing capabilities, destroy its communications and logistical routes, bases, tunnels, weapons storage and most importantly to have a permanent military presence to make sure that the fleeing terrorists don’t return.
    The Uzbek, Chachan and terrorists from Xinjiang region are fully supported by India. They are using their infrastructure at Fakhror and Aynini airbases in Tajikistan for recruitment, indoctrination and training. The Indian intelligence subcontracts Afghani intelligence NDS for infiltrating them into N.Waziristan.
    By destroying TTP’s infrastructure, the Indian supported mercenaries will have to seek a new home which is not going to be Afghanistan as Pakistan will not hesitate to go after them inside Afghanistan too.
    Pakistan has made it clear that this operation is against all militants as they collectively pose a threat to the country. I, find the idea of ‘selective’ targeting ludicrous as when the Pakistan Army is going to consolidate its control over North Waziristan region, all other stakeholders will no longer be dominant, nor would it be business as usual.
    Russia wants Pakistan to smash the Uzbeks, China wants Pakistan to smash the ETIM and Pakistan itself wants to destroy TTP. If the US wants Pakistan to expand this operation, it needs to step up and support Pakistan as Russia and China are. Bullying Pakistan is not going to solve anything nor it ever has.

  • blert says:

    It is now being written ^^^ that Pakistan telegraphed its intentions months ago.
    And that the fanatics have been permitted to shift their action to ISIS/ISIL/IS and such.
    In other rumors, it’s alleged that MANY of the ISIS (Sunni) mercenaries/ fanatics were trained in Jordan by the US and UK back in 2012 for the express purpose of deposing Assad.
    They simply dropped Mission #1 and went off to join ISIS the minute they crossed into the Euphrates valley.
    It’s this wave of new ‘recruits’ to ISIS that was at the bottom of the split with AQ/ al-Nusra.
    By splitting away from AQ, these Sunnis have picked up support from Qatar, Kuwait and KSA AND hidden support from US and UK.
    The US and UK are embarrassed that their Sunni troops went rogue and left Syria for Iraq.
    It never occurred to the US / UK that many of their Sunni recruits were, in fact, from Iraqi tribes. (Tribes that spanned the Iraq-Syrian border, of course.)
    The high powered sniper training provided (and equipment) was expected to demoralize Assad’s army.
    Instead, it crippled Maliki’s boys.
    In fact, Internet video shows that Iraqis abandoned functional M1-A1 Abrams tanks to the ISIS band of fanatics.
    The Iraqi army has no unit cohesion. Only now is it being re-formed into Shia only ‘super-militia.’
    As for the Iraqi Air Force: Iraq just can’t produce enough pilot candidates to meet Baghdad’s needs. The F-16s are merely waiting for TRAINED pilots. That takes smart, athletic, educated heroes who’ve put in the long hours required to master such an aircraft.
    The US DoD has ONLY two Iraqis ready to be certified — five weeks out.
    BTW, the F-16s — with smart bombs — will be a quantum jump in capability compared to the Su-25.

  • Mike says:

    You’re not fooling anyone here. This double game has gone on for over a decade. The US should have gone after terrorists on both sides of the Pakistani border, including the criminal ISI, when it had the political will to use military force to solve this problem after 9/11. Consider yourself very lucky that our political leadership was more interested in Saddam’s oil…

  • Saf says:

    For what it’s worth, there’s a Daily Times (Pakistan) news report a few days earlier on 27th June.
    They say they were among a ‘select group’ of journalists invited to the GHQ and had a briefing from (ISPR) Director General Major General Asim Bajwa who apparently made comments about TTP and Haqqanis. The article however seems to use a confusing mix of double quotes and single quotes, leaving one wonder whether he ‘said it’ or ‘implied it’.

  • wallbangr says:

    @ Blert: saw the same Dawn article and thought it relevant as evidence that the NWA operation is merely ISI lip service to fighting Pak militants. One does wonder if the telegraphing was aimed at letting these guys live another day as the rear garrison for the mythological final fight with India, or because the PakMil has legitimate doubts about taking these guys on mano a mano. While the tidbits about their fondness of perfumes and shampoos to maintain their Hakimullah-like coifs is interesting, the more salient part to me was mention that many of these men were talking about fleeing to the Gulf. Is there a well known open source nexus between TTP types in NWA and IS/ISIS/ISL in Iraq and Syria?

  • paulus says:

    good taliban?
    “The only good taliban I ever saw were dead”
    Where have you gone, Philip Sheridan? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Little Phil has left and gone away.

  • Moose says:

    Every country in the world hates pakistan. Russia could care less about you and the air bases in Tajikistan are there b/c Russia allows it. The Chinese aren’t stupid enough to fall for your bull either no matter how much you target the ETIM.
    Your tactic of extorting protection money from other countries while you support global terrorism is ending. No more sugar daddies to con.


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