February 19, 2010 – A US drone strike has killed Mohammed Haqqani, brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani. The Haqqani network, led by Sirajuddin, is responsible for several attacks on NATO troops and NATO supply lines in Afghanistan, and is affiliated with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

In his book, Descent Into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid described the Haqqani network as an asset of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s top intelligence agency. The Haqqanis were permitted to covertly operate on Pakistani soil, and in turn they agreed to not attack the Pakistani establishment. The drone strike comes as a blow to the Haqqani network and signals, perhaps, a shift in Pakistan’s strategy in Afghanistan. For the drone strike to have been successful, the United States would have had to rely on Pakistani intelligence, which indicates a willingness on the ISI’s part to cooperate. Moreover, two days ago, Mullah Baradar, another Taliban commander, was captured in Karachi. When Baradar’s arrest was announced, various analysts remarked on the news with cautious optimism, unsure of whether the arrest was a harbinger of a new Pakistani strategy. This latest drone strike lends credence to such a shift: Pakistan is willingly cooperating with the United States and NATO in Afghanistan now, but on the condition that it receives a stake in a post-NATO Afghanistan and that India’s influence in the region is curbed.

Update: It’s almost as if the ISI read David Kenner’s post on ForeignPolicy.com, and said effyou. Kenner complained about Pakistan’s reluctance in going after the Haqqani network–and boom, there’s an attack on the Haqqanis: “Although General Kayani has shown a willingness to go after Taliban operatives in South Waziristan, the Pakistani military has repeatedly rebuffed U.S. requests to take on Haqqani operatives to the north. For years, U.S. officials have accused the ISI of maintaining links to tribal patriarch Jalaluddin Haqqani. In one particularly blunt message delivered in 2008, CIA Deputy Director Stephen Kappes traveled to Islamabad to tell the Pakistanis, “[W]e know there’s a connection … and we think you could do more and we want you to do more about it,” as summarized by a senior American official to the New York Times. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also stated publicly that Pakistan’s ties to the Haqqani network, as well as other extremist groups in the tribal areas, “are a real concern to us.” The ISI is thought to maintain its ties to Haqqani because it perceives his organization as a valuable asset in countering Indian influence in Afghanistan.” ISI sab ka dada hai–the ISI is everyone’s granddaddy.

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