Pakistan is ‘very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism,’ Secretary Kerry tells Congress

US Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that Pakistan’s government and military are “very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism” while Senator Bob Corker accused the country of “outright blatant duplicity” for supporting the Afghan Taliban.

Kerry and Corker squared off on Pakistan on Feb. 23 during a State Department budget request hearing. Corker challenged Kerry’s omission of Afghanistan in his opening statement, and then said he “witnessed that continued duplicity on Pakistan’s part” during a recent visit to Afghanistan.

“They [Pakistan] continue to support the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and give safe haven to al Qaeda,” Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, noted. He then objected to the US government’s recent approval of the sale of F-16 fighters and other equipment worth nearly $700 million to Pakistan. He claimed that “zero US taxpayer dollars will go to subsidize Pakistan’s purchase until such a time as they do the things that we know they could do to stop helping to destabilize Afghanistan.”

Kerry rose to Pakistan’s defense, and called the situation in the country “a very complicated mix.”

“The government itself, the military has been very cooperative and very engaged in the fight against terrorism,” Kerry stated, noting that Pakistani soldiers have been killed during military operations in the tribal areas.

Kerry then claimed that there are “entities that complicate our efforts very significantly,” without naming them. This is almost certainly a reference to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, which is more commonly known as the ISI. The ISI is known to support the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, (a Taliban subgroup), and a host of Pakistani jihadist groups allied with al Qaeda, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat-ul-Muhajideen.

While Kerry treats the ISI as an entity separate from the military and government, the ISI is actually part of Pakistan’s military. ISI directors have served as the Chief of Army Staff, the highest military rank in Pakistan, and arguably the most powerful person in Pakistan.

Kerry also claimed that the Pakistani military “drove the Haqqani Network into new locations” during its ongoing offensive in North Waziristan, known as Zarb-e Azb. While the Pakistani military has said the offensive in North Waziristan has targeted all jihadist groups based there, this is untrue. Zarb-e Azb has only focused on groups that actively oppose the government, such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. These organizations are often referred to as the “bad Taliban” as they do not take direction from the ISI and the military, and focus their efforts inside Afghanistan and India.

Organizations like the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group are called “good Taliban” as they do not attack the Pakistani state. However, these groups do support al Qaeda and the so-called “bad Taliban.”

The Pakistani military gave sufficient notice before the launch of Zarb-e Azb in June 2014 that allowed the Haqqanis and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group to vacate North Waziristan. The Haqqani Network is known to have relocated to the neighboring tribal agency of Kurram. Not a single senior or mid-level Haqqani Network leader has been killed or captured during the 20 months of Pakistan military operations in North Waziristan.

Pakistan’s “long line of duplicity” in Afghanistan, as Corker concluded in his exchange with Kerry, continues to this day. This duplicity can be seen with the Pakistani state’s relationship with Siraj Haqqani, one of the Afghan Taliban’s two deputy emirs who is the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.

According to The New York Times‘ Carlotta Gall, Siraj “moves freely around Pakistan, and has even visited the Pakistani intelligence headquarters of the Afghan campaign in Rawalpindi.” Other Haqqani Network leaders are known to travel to the gulf to raise money for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The leadership of the Afghan Taliban, which is based outside of the Pakistani city of Quetta and is known as the Quetta Shura, receives direct support from the ISI and the military. The Taliban openly recruits inside Pakistan and runs training camps and command and control centers throughout the country, but most prominently in the tribal areas and the provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Afghan Taliban is open about its relationship with al Qaeda, and in August 2015, the group accepted al Qaeda’s pledge of allegiance.

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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  • Matt says:

    So when US Mil bombed Afghanistan in 2001 and a solitary AQ leader was killed in Afghanistan while OBL and comrades got fair warning thanks to CNN etc and fled Tora Bora; would that qualify as lack of sincerity and cooperation by Bush Administration? And now that most of the Haqqanis & Mullah Radio are in eastern Afghanistan, is that in ANY way reflection upon US or Afghans’ sincerity about fighting terror?

  • Paul D. (Pete) Speer Jr says:


    This is the net result of the intersection of two things

    Along one road is the necessity as lifting the flag of morality as being the nexus of our part in foreign wars with the Johnny Appleseed objective the creation of new nations based on the model of the United States under the Constitution we adopted and the generally Judeo Christian belief to which we originally clung. We do this in order to have the tacit, if sleeping, approval of the United States citizens.

    The road is locked by the fact that there is no, repeat no, international morality paving that road.

    Crossing this road is the street of dreams of the American military pushing for more and more appropriations to fund its bureaucracies which exist in war and peace. It matters not that most of the supposed threats to which the military is willing to spend through debt tax revenues on future GDPs or that none of the threats, indeed none of the attacks to date have more than the tiniest effect on the national security of America/

    It should but does not matter that we waste money like a leaking toilet with a damaged float because we have no overarching National Objectives against which can be seen the shadow of true threats and to del with we have not designed Strategies and Policies to mitigate, neutralize or destroy the Threat.

  • Confused says:

    American Foreign Policy: Trusting the Wrong People Since 1959, then wondering how things went wrong.

  • Paddy Singh says:

    Kerry and the others within the Yankee foreign policy ambit are naive idiots. It is only when the Pakistanis openly kick their backsides, that they will realise their mistake. I wait for that day.

  • Richard Arnone says:

    Kerry should now ask the drug cartels to help us fight drug connected crime. I’m sure if he asks politely with a diplomtic touch of respect we could get their agreement and really clean things up.

  • Atif says:

    @Confused First of all, we Pakistanis did our utmost best to assist USA. Secondly, no terrorist group is safe, Pakistan army will eliminate any terrorist group it finds. Thirdly, ALL TERRORIST GROUPS were TARGETED in operation Zarb. Lastly, It was USA which forced Pakistan into this war, otherwise Pakistan would have remained neutral, including the flood of Afghanistani refugees we had coming in; some of those were hidden terrorists also most of them are now hiding in this country of ours acting like they are ‘poor refugees’ but are actually terrorists. The attack on Baacha Khan University had Afghan terrorists receiving attack instructions from Afghanistan. USA SHOULD HELP PAKISTAN FIGHT THESE TERRORISTS WE ARE READY TO FIGHT!

  • Arjuna says:

    Great points. They rotate through ISI and SPD. Everyone’s crooked. It’s the only way to do it in PK. God forbid they develop expertise hahaha Guess Kerry doesn’t mind being lied to continuously. Silly man. He is delusional a lot of the time. Just look at Syria and Libya and Yemen.
    Siraj hangs out in ‘pindi. Mullah Mansour hangs out there too. So where do they keep Zawahiri? Outside Quetta? Back and forth? Find him and you’ll get the dirt on the ISI. Then take them to the ICC.

  • Moose says:

    The article is about Pakistan’s duplicity in helping the Taliban and then pretending to be our allies. Yes, we all know that Afghanistan is dealing with an insurgency supported by Pakistan within its borders, thank you.

  • Spartyman88 says:

    It’s sad to see our politicians play politics with a not so cunning Pakistan. Pakistan killed more U.S. Military, contractors, NATO forces by supporting a two faced program with the Talib an and other proxy figthers. I look forward to the complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and watching both proxy armies turn on Pakistan. Don’t sell them one defense contract, not one. No more money to Pakistan.

  • David Roberts says:

    Good point, Richard.

    Bob Corker is correct on the facts of the issue. Pakistan is following a duplicitous policy of appearing on the surface of opposing the Taliban, while at the same time using the ISI to fund and supply them with arms and logistical support. They see Afghanistan as a potential ally of India, and consequently they do everything they can to destabilize the government through the Taliban.

    With the Afghans weak and battered, they are no threat to Pakistan. Alternately, a strong and unified neighbour on their border is another matter completely. Kerry knows this, of course, and his public statements are not worth the paper they are printed on.

  • Arjuna says:

    Piffle, Atif. You Pakistanis armed, trained and, most importantly, indoctrinated these animals. Doesn’t matter on which side of the border they operate. Now they want your blood and Zarb el Harb is your karma biting you in the tail. To the extent the US showed Pakistan’s true colors viz. AQ and the Taliban, well, that’s a public service on behalf of the non-Islamist world. Close the madrassas, stop training suicide bombers and making vests (the only thing Pakistan exports other than refugees and hard drugs), and quit playing both sides for money.

  • David Roberts says:

    For the $2 billion in aid that we provide each year to Pakistan, the US could harden its electrical grid system so that it would be immune to any EMP attack. The government has known this since at least 2006, since that was when they held hearings to examine the issue. An additional set of hearings that came to the same conclusion was held in 2008, yet nothing has been done.

    Is there a group of people that actually want to see the US grid destroyed in this way?

  • reason1984 says:

    Where did UBL live for a decade?

  • Telh says:

    Pakistan has a history of fostering/sheltering Islamic terrorists. Your ‘utmost best’ is mediocre. The ISI are a bunch of liars with known links to terror groups and the government is impotent to do anything about it. One is justified in suspecting another agenda is operating in Pakistan. Unfortunately Pakistan’s problems seems to have roots in the religious sympathies of the country and as such the end of terrorism is nowhere in sight.

  • Moose says:

    Do you people ever stop begging for money?

  • pre-Boomer Marine brat says:

    The definition of “terrorist” is flexible. Reuters’ news boss once put forth a policy saying, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Erdogan’s clique in Turkey’s AKP thinks a terrorist is anyone who’s a cousin of a friend of someone who opposes them. And in Pakistan, anyone who kills Indians is a saint.

    I’m generally (more-or-less) a pragmatic backer of the Pakistani Army, but I think Hanoi John’s inhaling.

  • Ramu says:

    It should be noted that from 2002 to 2004, Pakistan was not facilitating any group known to carry out terrorist activities. It banned many terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and clamped down on them (a moral deed, with grave consequences for Pakistan).

    First people need to understand that groups such as Taliban (Afghan or Pakistan), Al-Qaeda or Al-Nusra, Free Syrian Army or Jamat ud Dawa, Lashkar e Jhangvi or Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, are all hired guns. TERRORISM A BUSINESS. These groups are propped up by intelligence agencies of many countries, and funded by them to carry out their dirty work.

    Pakistan has faced 26 intelligence agencies since the war in Afghanistan, most hostile to Pakistan’s security and interests, with direct engagement in Pakistan.

    The only difference between good Taliban (Afghan Taliban) and bad Taliban (Pakistan Taliban) is that one serves Pakistan, the other serves America, India, Afghanistan, to name a few.

    If anyone follows the chain of events since 2004, in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, they can get a clear picture of what a messy proxy war this has been. According to CIA, Pakistan would have broken up into four pieces by 2015. No wonder the west ranked ISI as the top intelligence agency of the world this year. By next year, Afghan Taliban will be given a green light to roam freely in Afghanistan, as long as they don’t burn the poppy fields (like they did in 2000), half a trillion US$ worth business. I wonder who needs all that money to run their defence budget?

  • Reuben says:


    Amongst your other assertions this one jumped out:

    “Pakistan has faced 26 intelligence agencies since the war in Afghanistan, most hostile to Pakistan’s security and interests, with direct engagement in Pakistan.”

    26 is an AWFULLY specific number. How did you come to that number, please and do they represents AGENCIES or Countries?

    Thank you

  • Arjuna says:

    This comment is delusional, Ramu; the product of a smart, but brainwashed, mind. You should know that the only thing the ISI is the top of is terrorism. America and Pakistan may share a penchant for incompetence, but at least America is not a Narco state secretly rcontrolled by terrorists in fancy uniforms.
    The ISI place Pakistan in a position of HUGE danger. Sooner or later, its murderous ISI proxies will anger India or America enough that Pakistan will simply cease to exist. You can bet your karma on it. Afghanistan’s troubles will be a sad, small footnote to the obliteration of Pakistan by the non-insane world.

  • Arjuna says:

    I think Kerry must have meant Pakistan is “very engaged in terrorism”! Here we have the Godfather of Jihad, Hamid Gul, sharing the love with Bin Laden, Sharif (the Saudi’s perennial favorite) and Khalid Khawaja. A nicer group of wealthy, two-faced terrorists you’d be hard pressed to find…

  • Arjuna says:

    Shhhh! That’s supposed to be a secret!
    The US is surrendering to Pakistan after a failed fifteen year effort. Ouch.

  • Ramu says:

    The greatest thing happened to this world last decade was Wikileaks. I read the cables released by Wikileaks, one particular discussed American interests and security in Pakistan, and the situation in NWFP(now KPK province)/FATA. The cable mentions intelligence agencies of 26 different countries active in NWFP/FATA. It also mentioned how TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), the group waging war inside Pakistan, is a formation of 60+ militant groups.
    It was a mini, or you can say proxy world war taking place in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It started there, but continues in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and Syria.


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