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Pakistan, Haqqani network are not ‘friends’, says Aizaz Chaudhry

A day after a top US Central Command official acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts against the deadly Haqqani network, Ambassador to the United States (US) Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said the Haqqani network is not Pakistan’s “friend”.

“Those playing with human lives, we are against such elements or activities,” he said, while talking to a news channel.

The Haqqani network is one of the most dangerous faction in the Afghan Taliban. Founded by a CIA asset turned al Qaeda ally, the group was provided arms and cash during the 1980s by the CIA to to counter Soviet forces.

A series of high-profile attacks over the years, which includes assaults on the US embassy and Nato headquarters in Kabul, brought allegations of Pakistani support behind the Haqqani network.

“The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency,” retired Admiral Mike Mullen told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in 2011.

As of 2015, Pakistan formally banned the Haqqani network in an effort to ease pressure from the US.

‘Pakistan did helpful things’
Earlier this month, Gen Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command, acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in combating the Haqqani Network.

“They have done some things that have been helpful to us,” he said. “Most recently, they’ve supported Gen Joseph Nicholson in some places on the border, making sure they were well coordinated and doing the activities on their side of the border.”

“That’s a very positive sign and a move in [the] right direction. And they have done things against the principal concerns we have; the Haqqani network and Taliban,” Gen Votel said. “But we need that to be more persistent and continue to focus in that particular area. And so, we will continue to engage with partner Pakistan throughout this.”

Gen Votel also explained why Pakistan remains “a critical partner” in the counterterrorism fight.

According to him, 20 US-designated terrorist organisations operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan sub-region and seven of them are in Pakistan.

“So long as these groups maintain safe haven inside of Pakistan they will threaten long-term stability in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the US was particularly concerned about the Haqqani network, which posed the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.

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