Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned a US drone strike that reportedly killed a Haqqani Network commander earlier today in the tribal agency of Kurram. The Pakistan government often criticizes US airstrikes that kill members of the Taliban, including Haqqani Network leaders.
Today’s strike, which is the second recorded inside Pakistan this year, targeted a home in the Spin Tal Dappah Mamozai area of Kurram, GEO News reported. The strike reportedly killed Ahsan aka Khoray, “a commander of the Haqqani Network,” as well as another person, the Pakistani news agency noted.
In an official statement released on its website, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed the US military struck a refugee camp for Afghan citizens.
“Pakistan condemns a drone strike in Kurram Agency carried out by the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) this morning, which targeted an Afghan refugee camp,” the ministry claimed.
“Such unilateral actions, as that of today, are detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism.”
The Pakistani government has condemned numerous US drone strikes in the past, calling them “a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” In its most controversial denouncement of a US strike, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a formal statement objecting to the attack that killed former Taliban emir Mullah Mansour in Baluchistan province on May 21, 2015.
These public objections of US strikes have been issued when the US targets members of the Taliban or other groups which are supported by powerful and influential elements of Pakistan’s military, Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, and government. These groups, such as the Afghan Taliban (including the Haqqani Network), the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group, and the Mullah Nazir Group, are referred to in Pakistani circles as the “good Taliban,” as they do not advocate attacking the Pakistani state. However, those groups do support jihadist groups that wage war on the government (referred to as the “bad Taliban,” such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan) and shelter foreign terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.
The so-called “good Taliban” also support and wage jihad in Afghanistan and India. [See Threat Matrix report, Good Taliban are not our problem, adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister says.]
US focuses efforts against jihadists in Kurram
Over the past two years, the US drone campaign appears to have shifted its focus from the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan to Kurram. The US has launched 13 such attacks inside Pakistan since Dec. 2016; eight of them have occurred inside Kurram, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. The last six US strikes have all taken place inside Kurram. [See US drone strike inside Pakistan targets ‘Afghan extremist’.]
Elements of the Haqqani Network, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, relocated to Kurram in 2014 after the Pakistani military telegraphed a planned operation to root out the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s network in North Waziristan. Sirajuddin is the operational commander of the Haqqani Network and serves as one of the Taliban’s two deputy emirs as well as its military commander.
Other elements of the Afghan Taliban as well as allied jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, are also known to operate from Kurram.