Pakistan’s Key Minister Imran Khan fulfills with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White Property in Washington on July 22, 2019 [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

On February 20, days ahead of the signing of a landmark deal concerning the US and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital, DohaAmerican “paper of record” The New York Times posted an feeling editorial by Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. Haqqani, who is also the deputy leader of the Taliban,  was labelled a “specially designated world wide terrorist” by the US in 2008. The State Section is still offering a reward of up to $5m for facts instantly primary to his arrest.

The timing of the piece was not a coincidence – it appeared as the US was readying a partial truce with the Taliban that could set in movement a opportunity close to America’s longest war. 

The newspaper’s determination to publish the posting, provocatively titled “What We, the Taliban, Want,” jolted not only regular audience and US foreign plan hawks, but also Washington’s largest detractors overseas. As the criticism mounted, The Times’ feeling editors issued a statement to attempt and justify their determination to give a system to Haqqani. 

“Our mission at Occasions Belief is to tackle big strategies from a variety of newsworthy viewpoints,” they mentioned. “We have actively solicited voices from all sides of the Afghanistan conflict, the govt, the Taliban and from citizens. Sirajuddin Haqqani is the 2nd in command of the Taliban at a time when its negotiators are hammering out an agreement with American officers in Doha that could result in American troops leaving Afghanistan. That would make his standpoint related at this particular minute.” 

What the Occasions did not mention, having said that, was the extent to which the Haqqani dilemma has prickled the romance concerning the US and Pakistan – a important non-NATO ally traditionally accused by numerous in Washington of not carrying out enough to facilitate American aims in neighbouring Afghanistan. 

Back again in 2011, subsequent an attack on the US embassy in Kabul considered to be perpetrated by the Haqqanis, the then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Personnel, Mike Mullen, named the network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Expert services Intelligence (ISI), ratcheting up stress on Pakistan to eradicate the network and paving the way for more American drone strikes in the place. 

Mullen’s assertion brought on popular anger and disappointment in Pakistan. In the several years that followed, consecutive civilian governments in Pakistan maintained that the infrastructure supporting the network experienced shifted to Afghanistan and that scapegoating Pakistan for American failures in an interminable war subsequent doorway was disingenuous and unjust.

For numerous in Pakistan, no other political team improved exemplifies America’s very long heritage of actively playing sides to go well with its own strategic aims. Few American diplomats right now treatment to recount that the Haqqanis commenced as Washington’s closest allies in Afghanistan that the network’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani was a CIA darling kept flush with revenue and weaponry, together with shoulder-fired Stinger missiles that would eventually down Soviet plane. Less still have any compunction more than the diplomatic arm-twisting meted out to Pakistan, together with the slicing off of very important Coalition Assistance Fund help, for allegedly not carrying out enough to beat the team.  


As the US ongoing to stress Pakistan for not carrying out enough to curtail the Haqqani Network’s routines in Afghanistan, the grievances against Washington’s regional policies commenced to pile up in in the place. Several in Pakistan came to imagine that the US was scapegoating Islamabad to camouflage the further contradictions in its military services approach against the Taliban. And they experienced ample purpose to maintain this perspective. In 2015, for example, the US and the Haqqanis came face-to-deal with all through the unwell-fated “Murree talks” concerning the Taliban and the Afghan govt. Conveniently, the US lifted no objections to the Haqqanis remaining in the meeting.

For the previous 10 years and a fifty percent, the Pakistan-US romance has been bedevilled by a host of structural issues main between them an American tendency to use progress on the Afghan battlefield as a barometer for the charges to be imposed on Pakistan for failing to “do more”. All that time, the Haqqani Network experienced been the primary issue of numerous rancorous conversations concerning successive US administrations and Pakistani governments, even as US drone strikes claimed the lives of Pakistani civilians, and Pakistan argued that expecting it to do the heavy lifting to go well with US aims was unrealistic. 

This is why numerous in Pakistan right now discover the slick community rehabilitation of Sirajuddin Haqqani to be a distasteful reminder of how conveniently the US has managed this previous 10 years to burden Pakistan with the costs of non-compliance, whilst staging a war on Pakistan’s entrance-strains when it suited them, and locating the bilateral romance in apathetic conditionalities that overlooked Pakistan’s own strategic fears.

Heading ahead, peace in Afghanistan and gains created in latest several years together with on legal rights and the status of Afghanistan’s women are considerably from certain. Days after the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha, a suicide attack on a ceremony in Kabul killed at least 29 men and women, injuring dozens more. Whilst the attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also identified as ISIS), it aptly demonstrated the extent to which spoilers litter the Afghan battlefield.

The be concerned in Islamabad is that the US, in its rush to reach a deal in light-weight of domestic compulsions at residence, could be guided by small-time period intent fairly than a very long-time period approach, and will therefore small-alter on brokering regional stability. 

For instance, no matter if the US can reach its counterterrorism aims with a reduced military services footprint is an unanswered dilemma. It is almost sure that Taliban commanders now perspective the signing of a peace deal with the Americans as a resounding validation of a 19-year-very long wrestle to close an illegal foreign occupation. This is currently proving to have important implications for the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are shrouded by a deepening and fractious energy wrestle in Kabul. 

Subsequent an election recount and a delay of virtually five months, both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah declared themselves president at rival inauguration ceremonies. Pakistan’s problem is that political insolvency in Kabul will induce further more regional instability and probably a war of attrition, after the US’s exit from the place. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is, meanwhile, trying to get the job done out a energy-sharing arrangement concerning the two camps.

As for Pakistan-US relations, the big dilemma is no matter if a long run strategic equilibrium can arise from the mistrust engendered by several years of fraught, at situations harmful conversations, together with on the Haqqani Network. There is a keen want in Islamabad for a broader, more powerful romance with the US, and there are indications that less than President Trump and Key Minister Imran Khan, this may well be attainable. 

On his latest pay a visit to to India, President Trump took a softer line on Pakistan, reflecting the tricky get the job done that each sides have place into resuscitating the romance from its worst days. Indeed, Washington’s listing of the separatist Balochistan Liberation Military as a terrorist team and the latest concentrating on of Pakistani Taliban commanders in jap Afghanistan speaks to a steadily modifying equation – 1 that, for once, optimises each parties’ strategic passions.

For Pakistanis, that alone is a welcome shift, even if an official community apology for using the flak for the Haqqanis, takes time.

The sights expressed in this posting are the author’s own and do not automatically mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



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