Pakistan condemns drone strike that targeted ‘good Taliban’

Yesterday, after the US launched a drone strike in South Waziristan that reportedly killed a Haqqani Network commander known as Abdullah Haqqani and an al Qaeda leader, the spokeswoman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack. From a transcript provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

First about the drone strike this morning, the Government of Pakistan condemns the US drone strike that took place on 0200 hours at Azam Warsak, South Waziristan on 30 October 2014. Pakistan has consistently maintained that such strikes are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Government of Pakistan is itself taking decisive action against terrorist elements and therefore believes that such strikes are unnecessary and need to be stopped.

Yesterday’s condemnation of the US campaign to kill members al Qaeda and other jihadist groups that pose a threat not just to the West, but to the Pakistani state, isn’t the first. Pakistan routinely denounces US airstrikes as “a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The Pakistani government even denounced a US strike that killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, the previous leader of the al Qaeda-linked Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis. [See Threat Matrix report, Pakistan condemns drone strike that killed Hakeemullah Mehsud.]

But more often, the Pakistani government gets upset about the strikes that killed members of the so-called “good Taliban,” or the Taliban that don’t openly advocate jihad against the Pakistani state. For instance, when a US drone strike killed three Haqqani Network leaders, including a top commander who is said to be a senior financier and aide to the group’s operational leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Foreign Affairs Ministry was quick to respond. [See Threat Matrix report, Pakistan ‘strongly condemns’ drone strike that killed Haqqani Network leaders.]

It doesn’t seem to matter much to the Pakistani government and military that the good Taliban, such as the Haqqani Network or those loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadar, aid, shelter, and support al Qaeda, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and a host of other jihadist groups. What does appear to matter to the Pakistani decision makers is that the good Taliban wage jihad in Afghanistan and serve as strategic depth against India.

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:

    The problem with the Pakistani military and in some extent the government is that they treat islamic fundamentalists as misguided teenagers who need love and not discipline. So even if the “good taliban” protect the “bad taliban”, the Pakistanis will not touch them, even if the bad taliban blow up their citizens in cities. The Pakistani army still thinks keeping the good and bad taliban in their country would be useful against their neighbours, even if these terrorists kill Pakistani citizens in their own country. That’s how mentally disturbed these Pakistani military are !!

  • I’ve often read that the “S Wing” inside the ISI is what forms, deals with, manages, et cetera, these covert militias for external aggression.
    Reading this article, it suddenly occurred that if one puts the “S” at the end of “ISI”, one gets “ISIS”.
    … … hmmm

  • Xpedior says:

    It is not about good taliban or bad taliban, it is even not abt religion. This is way of portraying situation that best suits western interests and to Pakistan’s beloved neighbors.
    Point is India doesnt share border wid Pakistan, yet India is heavily financing northern alliance (plz note when taliban rule afghanistan, dey r taliban, but ven their rival group northern alliance controls kabul, den dey r afghan govt). Indian HC in Kandhar and Jalalabad are purely dedicated for RAW operations to launch terrorists inside Pakistan to revenge what Pak did to India in Kashmir.
    Pakistan’s strategic depth, proxy or brotherly country turned into enemy due to US intervention. India took foot hold n invested heavily to punish Pakistan. Its since US invasion both Afghanistan, Pakistan r bleeding, so as Iraq n Libya liberated by US from the tyrant dictators.
    Now once US will go back after fighting a battle widout achieving significant objectives, it will be between Iran, India and Pakistan. If pakistan has to survive and bring peace on her soil, Pak must neutralize Indian influence in Afghanistan. n dose so called bad taliban are dose being financed by CIA/RAW/Afghan Int. Da good r being sheltered by Pak, Saudi n others.
    Now readers should understand it is about money, political influence, int’l rivalries, making moves thro proxies to secure interests by all. So PLZ STOP BLAMING PAKISTAN & LUK INWARD WHAT UR COUNTRIES R DOING WID PAKISTAN. If US reserves right to pre-empt strike and hot pursuit, Pak has all authority to secure her interest thro wateva means necessary.

  • irebukeu says:

    I am assuming, for its own domestic consumption, Pakistan has to do the nationalistic thing and promote their own border integrity. Obviously we seem to have their tacit permission to do this or there would be pakistani military drone hunting airplanes patrolling the FATA.
    Here are some thoughts/questions that come to mind when reading articles such as this.
    Do jihadis have the ability to use light aircraft in the FATA? Why haven’t they gone after the drones in some capacity or do they lack in total, that ability? It is after all, just a matter of time until drones do combat in the sky with other drones
    What is the intention of these “bad” groups that fight the Pakistani government and how do these same groups see themselves in regards to the “good” taliban. Do they fight each other at all or do they have good relations with each other? I know they cooperate somewhat in Afghanistan but how do they relate otherwise? Do they share weapons? Do they transit each others areas without suspicion?
    As far as Pakistani Taliban go, what percentage are considered good and what percentage bad? Are there any Taliban that are neutral? that is, left alone by the government?
    How do the ‘good’ Taliban see the ‘bad’ Taliban in regards to their own benefactors- the ISI? Are they consistently trying to get the military to back off? Do they try to talk them (bad Taliban) out of attacks on the government?
    Was it Pakistani cooperation with the USA that turned the ‘bad’ Taliban against the hands that fed it or were there tribal favoritisms that predate the 2001 Intervention? were they always the black sheep or trouble makers among the tribes?

  • James says:

    irebukeu with all due respect to your comments, Bill has made crystal clear the distinction between the [so-called] ‘good’ taliban and the ‘bad’ taliban (according to the pAQistani mindset).
    If you read paragraph 5 of the article, where he states the [so-called] ‘good’ taliban as being ‘the Taliban that don’t openly advocate jihad against the Pakistani state’.
    In other words, the [so-called] ‘good’ taliban, are nothing but a fantasy creation of the wishful thinking of the failed pAQistani state.
    In reality, there is no such thing as a ‘good’ taliban, unless you wish to drink the koolaid of the pAQistani authorities who advocate such nonsense.

  • blert says:

    Your post is comic: Pakistan shares its eastern border with India.
    At any given time entire, opposed, armies are arrayed there — in serious field fortifications, no less.
    Absolutely no-one is going to build out anti-drone drones.
    1) Once detected, all plain vanilla drones are mincemeat already. If they’re big enough they rate a surface to air missile.
    2) If they’re dinky, they’re dead meat if exposed to AAA.
    3) If they’re high tech, stealthy, then detection is a serious problem — and no drone sized package will do.
    4) For most players, drones can also be defeated by way of WWII era prop planes with machine guns. They’re just not that fast.
    Most drones are effective because they’re flying over friendly skies. By far the largest user is the US Army. It’s gotten to the point that they toss them up like they’re Chicklets.
    Any serious armed force could just shoot them down with small arms fire.
    Their niche in military history remains in counter insurgent warfare… where the opfor is sporadic… and trying to fake it as civilians. Shooting up at drones must expose them, the very last thing they want.
    As for the FATA (Federally Abandoned Tribal Anarchy) the ISI and CIA have a side deal going: rent-a-war.
    If you’ll recall from “Clear and Present Danger” the Cuban villain proposes a deal with the CIA/ National Security Advisor: In exchange for running the real show, the Cuban will persistently offer up rivals and irritants for the CIA and DEA to ‘take down.’
    Something like this has been under way for more than a decade in the FATA. The ISI offers up irritating jihadis to the CIA — sort of a drip feed — which the CIA can pick off and publicize. Then Islamabad can decry the results.
    All the while, Pakistan is receiving seriously large pay offs – -one way or another — that amount to billions per annum.
    The ISI runs a double game, of course. One section [T] plays ‘good cop’ and is stuffed with CIA friendly officers. The other section [S] plays ‘bad cop’ and stiffens jihadi resistance. The ‘bad cops’ make sure that the Taliban are propped up. Lest anyone forget: the Taliban were created INSIDE Pakistan. They never sprouted up inside Afghanistan — even if the boys have ethnic roots there — or even were born there.
    It, the Taliban, started its existence as an anti-Soviet, anti-Communist, auxiliary army — so that Pakistan could portray itself as NOT being a front line state opposed to Moscow. As IF.
    Islamabad’s auxiliaries took over the Pashtun lands during the Afghanistan civil war/ Taliban invasion. Everything was fine and dandy until AQ went off script and attacked America.
    The Taliban had become so full of themselves that they permitted a strategic attack on their primary patron: America. For there was nothing that Islamabad was providing Kabul that was not a hand-me-down from Washington DC. On its own, Pakistan is dead broke, a total basket case.
    Washington’s strategy at this time is to wean Islamabad off of Uncle Sam’s sugar. Their for-profit protection racket is drawing to a close.
    And, already, the Taliban are noticing that their budgets are crimped — and rather severely, too.
    By totally defunding Islamabad, the ISAF may actually prevail — against all predictions of doom. For, on its own, Pakistan can’t afford to keep the Taliban in the field. (They’re impossible to ‘aim’ — hence all of the blow-back attacks inside Pakistan.)

  • Ram says:

    This is hilarious.
    Pakistan’s distinction of good and bad Taliban s no different from US’ distinction of moderate and extreme Syrian rebels. Pot calling kettle black

  • DR says:

    Not sure what a “good” Taliban is but he just became a “better” Taliban. That is a dead Taliban.

  • Arjuna says:

    Blert, that’s a great analysis of the convoluted state of PakAm Anti-Taliban/AQ affairs. Takes me back to Abu Anas al Libi. Drip, drip, drip, is right. All the way to Abbottabad where we surprised them with our inside knowledge of who lived in Waziristan House. Boo!
    Rather than the indirect bribery of the past (“we’ll give you fighter jets if you bomb insurgent targets”) I wonder if we couldn’t simply place easily cashable local bounties on heads, starting with Zawahiri and Mullah Omar… get the right ISI captain or colonel to drop a dime, and voila!
    Pakistani love of money should be the key here. Make them sell out their terrorist creations! For someone as high as those two, hell, give them a French villa. Just get the enemy in PK. They are trying to start a war with India, and that is not acceptable.


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