Pakistani foreign minister: ‘We don’t have the assets to match’ Haqqanis and LeT

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif accused the United States of creating and supporting jihadist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, two proxies to the Pakistani state. Additionally, Asif said Pakistan does not have the capabilities to defeat these jihadist outfits, when in reality Pakistan has harbored them.

Asif made the remarkable statements yesterday during the Asia Society forum. Dawn provided an excerpt from Asif’s comments:

“Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds [referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa]. These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say ‘go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people’.”

Further clarifying Islamabad’s position, Asif said: “It is very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further.”

As with most astounding lies, a kernel of truth is embedded in Asif’s claims. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US did provide support for the Afghan mujahideen, which included the likes of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbiddin Hekmatyar. However, this support flowed to them indirectly, via the Pakistani state. Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq hand selected the groups that would benefit from US aid. And the Pakistani state continued to nurture and support these groups long after the Soviet withdrawal and United States withdrew support.

Asif’s claim that the Pakistani state views the Haqqani Network – which of course is a powerful subgroup of the Afghan Taliban – and Hafiz Saeed and his Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the rebranded Lashkar-e-Taiba) as “liabilities” is preposterous. These jihadist networks are only liabilities in the sense that Pakistani officials like Asif have to attempt to deflect accusations of state sponsorship. The Pakistani state has done nothing at all to curb Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s power; the “house arrest” of Hafiz Saeed is window dressing. In fact, the group plans to contest elections in 2018.

Pakistan’s failure to target the Haqqani Network is well documented. While the Pakistani military and government have claimed the Haqqanis were targeted during operations in North Waziristan, not a single Haqqani Network leader was killed or captured. The Haqqanis merely temporarily relocated their base of operations to allow the military to target groups like the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Finally, Asif’s statement that Pakistan doesn’t “have the assets to match these liabilities” is outrageous. The fact is that Pakistan’s elites do not want to target jihadists like the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed. Instead, they are viewed as strategic assets used to further Pakistan’s goals of destabilizing Afghanistan and Indian Kashmir.

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:

    Funny that they have assets to make nuclear weapons and provide plenty of cash to the army, but not crushing their terrorist groups that they’ve created with only a fraction of their assets. Time to declare Pakistan or Terrorstan a terrorist state by the US administration.

  • iyer, hari says:

    very interesting. pakistani military completely controls all the actors here. just as a side note, during the kargil war with india when pakistani military infiltrated kargil with military as well as jihadi non-state actors, and india had to fight back to get its territory with lots of lives, then pakistani military general, gen musharaff was recorded as saying about the jihidists, “we have them by the scruffs” . This was recorded and played back during later years. very interesting indeed. the military IS the country. for instance, recently there were initial protests in pakistan regarding burmese actions on rohinga muslims; but when chinese took the burmese side in the conflict, all of a sudden, the protests vanished in pakistan. who was the controller? pakistani military and isi. who else?

  • KW Greenwood says:

    The last government organization that I would believe on practically any issue is the Pakistan government. They have in the past harbored, created and supported these groups. They are in effect, their babies. Sorry Pakistan, you need to come up with a better excuse. No logical thinking person or government believes you. You have zero credibility.

  • john says:

    What we should have done is support India back in 2001 and encouraged them to fight Pakistan. Instead we calmed everything down and dropped the CIA in to find old friends. ISI and PAKMIL regularly helped the bad guys all along, even going so far as to fight coalition forces at times. I don’t know why we waste our time, money and effort.

  • Alex says:

    This is another reason why I’m sad that the Green Revolution in 2009 failed in Iran. We could have used Iran as our logistics route into Afghanistan and then if Pakistan didn’t want to play ball, our foreign aid budget goes to zero and we start putting on Treasury sanctions. Pakistan knows we’re bluffing right now when we say we’d cut off foreign aid, since we need the logistics corridor.


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