After over a year of rancorous relations, US and Pakistani authorities are considering to launch joint counter-terrorism operations against the dreaded Haqqani network, which has carried out several attacks on American troops, in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The operations would be intended to help stamp out major security threats facing each country, targeting what US says are sanctuaries for the Haqqani network in Pakistan, and what Pakistan says are sanctuaries for the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan.
The plans are considered, at best, promising US officials have long pressed Pakistani counterparts to target the Haqqani group, without success. US says the Haqqani network acts like a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani military, a charge Pakistan denies.
The US-Pakistani plans were discussed in meetings in Washington this week involving ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam and top officials of the CIA, State Department and Pentagon, as well as top lawmakers.
US and Pakistani officials both described the meetings as productive and indicative of a higher level of trust than in previous meetings.
Until now, counter-terrorism negotiations between the sides have been largely on hold after US forces killed 24 Pakistani troops near Afghanistan’s border in November amid miscommunications between them.
As tensions rose over the US’s refusal to apologise for the incident, the new Pakistani intelligence chief deferred a June invitation from the CIA to visit Washington.
A US decision in July to say it was sorry for the soldiers’ deaths jump-started talks over the highly contentious CIA drone programme and US demands that Pakistan target the Haqqani network.
The US would also work with Pakistan to control the Afghan side of the border. Pakistan has named the planned offensive, Operation Tight Screw.