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US calls for Pak to take on Haqqani

world Updated: Sep 29, 2011 00:13 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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The hunt for the Haqqani network is fully underway here, but not where it should be. The White House on Tuesday put its weight behind the rising demand for Pakistan to act against the terrorist outfit which has been called its "veritable arm".

"The Pakistani government needs to take action to deal with the links that exist there (with the Haqqani network)," said White House press secretary Jay Carney, joining the state department and the Congress.

Outgoing chairman of the joint chief of staff admiral Mike Mullen set the ball rolling with a highly incendiary testimony to the Congress calling the Haqqanis a veritable arm of the Pakistani government and security establishment.

He had blamed the Haqqanis for the recent attacks on the US embassy in Kabul and the one on the Intercontinental Hotel. In fact, the linkage made the Pakistanis look responsible for the attack.

The Haqqani network, founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, is based in North Waziristan, striking across the border into Afghanistan with deadly effect, attacking both the US and Afghan forces.

The question now being asked is whether all this is leading to something.

The US state department is said to be close to designating the Haqqani network a terrorist outfit, but spokesperson Victoria Nuland refused to either confirm or deny it saying the issue was under review.

Nuland, however, did take on Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's on his charge in an interview that the US was tilting towards India - has been since the end of cold war - saying "it was not a zero sum game".

"We need and we seek good, strong relations with each, and we also strongly support the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, particularly the talks that they are engaged in now on Kashmir and other issues," Nuland said.

But what will the US do if Pakistani refuses to address the Haqqani issue?

"Obviously, if the Pakistani Government chooses not to take action, we would have to carefully consider how to proceed," the spokesperson said. Islamabad clearly fears an Osama bin Laden kind of raid on known Haqqani facilities and prime minister Gilani has warned against it saying Pakistan will consider it a violation of its sovereignty.

To make it easier for Gilani perhaps, the Taliban posted a statement on their website - Voice of Jihad - Tuesday claiming the Haqqani network took orders from them and not the Pakistani government.