The History of the Haqqanis


When the US suffers a defeat in Afghanistan, it will need another scapegoat. I stated this nine years ago; I give you one guess which country is a made-to-order scapegoat here? Neither history, nor truth, nor realities are of any significance. All that matters is that there is a readymade scapegoat to be proven guilty by media trial and convicted for its defeat. But Pakistan should be very proud. It has replaced the combined might of China and, the other erstwhile super-power; the USSR.

Is that what we are witnessing now?

Yes; and no. There are perhaps, other undercurrents at play. A scapegoat is definitely required so let’s just move on and view facts, before returning to conclusions and questions.

As a matter of fact, the period following Osama’s execution in Abbottabad has resulted, not only in increased attacks within Pakistan, but also in Kabul, Afghanistan, targeting the allied forces of occupation, so as to emphasize their vulnerability even within Kabul. Merely to list the prominent ones:

  • On May 18th a NATO military convoy came under attack on the Dar-ul-Aman Road in Kabul, close to the National Assembly building.
  • On June 28th, heavily armed individuals entered the Hotel Intercontinental Hotel, in the heart of Kabul.
  • On July 12th, Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali, was shot and killed by his own guard.
  • On September 12th, a dozen or so militants engaged the compound of the American Embassy and NATO HQ for about twenty hours, raining down rockets and heavy weapons fire, killing numerous local employees, before they were killed, though a few are believed to have escaped alive.
  • And on September 20th, Burhannuddin Rabbani, former President of Afghanistan and, since October last year, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was killed by a suicide bomber in his residence in Kabul.

While the US has accused the Haqqani Group of being responsible for these and other attacks, including the December 2009 attack on CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman which killed seven CIA personnel, I will confine myself to discussing the last two listed above, due to which US-Pak relations have plummeted to an all time low.

But before discussing these, a brief historical perspective of Jalaluddin Haqqani is essential

Born 1950 in the province of Paktia, he was 29 years old when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. At a time when traditional Pashtun tribal elders were appointing proxies to lead their tribe in the struggle for freedom, Jalal was just the right age, to lead his own tribe; he soon established himself as a formidable leader. According to Wikipedia, he was cultivated as a “unilateral” (which implies exclusive, not shared with the ISI) source by the CIA. US Congressman Charlie Wilson, responsible for aiding the Afghan Mujahideedn in the 1980s, referred to Jalaluddin as “goodness personified”.

When the Taliban began their expansion, after capturing Kandahar, Hamid Karzai was one of the Taliban Salaars (general)—that’s right, the current Afghan President was a Taliban and Jalaludin was fighting against the Taliban. Only when Kabul fell, in 1996, and Jalal realized that the ISI, backed by the CIA were intent on assisting the Taliban, did he join them.

After 1996, when Osama bin Laden entered Afghanistan, Jalal witnessed the metamorphosis in the Taliban, especially Mulla Muhammed Omer, under the influence of OBL, with dismay, but remained a silent spectator.

When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and the Taliban disintegrated, Jalal went his own way. Interestingly, 1n 2002, the CIA contacted Jalal to join the post-Taliban setup in Kabul, but Jalal was not prepared to serve under Burhanuddin Rabbani as President and was also wary of being associated with the Tajik and Uzbek dominated “Northern Alliance” which had a stranglehold on US decision making at the time.

Jalal has been accused of having assisted OBL’s escape from his base in Khost to the caves of Tora Bora in 2001; which is possible. He might well have considered himself bound by the tradition of Pashtun hospitality to protect someone within his area. However, the inference drawn from this accusation; that he was/is an Al-Quaida affiliate is blatantly false. Jalal, and his son, Siraj, have been fiercely independent Afghans. Even when he joined the Taliban, he never referred to himself as a Talib.

Hoping that the US would pull out, Jalal waited till 2003/4 before renewing his struggle to free Afghanistan from another foreign invader; the US. In 2006 and again in 2007, Hamid Karzai’s emissaries contacted him, obviously with US blessings, offering him the assignment of Prime Minister, but by that time, Karzai had lost all credibility with the Afghan Pashtun and, not wishing to be tainted, Jalal refused.

In September 2008, he was targeted by an American drone strike, killing 10 others, but he had left. Since then, Jalal and Siraj have flitted across the Durand Line, the de facto Pak-Afghan border, to NWA in Pakistan. However, soon after May this year, the Haqqanis started shifting back to Afghanistan and, while no one can be certain where they are, they are, almost certainly, back in Afghanistan.

The attack on the US Embassy

On September 13th, the US accused the Haqqani Group of being responsible for the attack on its Embassy compound. This was soon followed by accusations of a direct link between the attackers and Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI. Although no evidence of this link between the ISI and the September 12th attackers has been made public, the first hint of evidence provided by the US media was that the attackers were in possession of cartons/bottles of Pakistan-made juice, that’s right; Pakistani juice.

But, of course, that is far from being all. From the cell phones recovered from the dead bodies, US intelligence was able to discover that the attackers had been in constant communication with “their ISI handlers”. Now even a low-tech person like this author is aware that any teen aged hacker can make a cell phone sym, or a laptop, for that matter, talk any language and say anything that he wants it to. However, being low-tech, I am mystified by a rather basic question: having recovered the cell numbers that the attackers were in communication with, how did the CIA establish that these cell numbers belonged to “ISI handlers”?

Does the CIA have a list of all cell numbers of ISI personnel? Or did they call the number and the person who replied began with, “ISI handler here”? Now I have never been in the intelligence business; my only knowledge of how it works is because of years of teaching at the Command and Staff College and the NDU (War Wing). But even a novice “handling” such an operation would procure a fresh SIM under a pseudonym and ensure that he/she was miles distant from his/her base for the duration of the attack, so that even if the call could be traced back, it would not lead to the real location of the handler.

Like I said, I am low tech and therefore, perhaps there is technology available to identify the individual’s affiliation as well. I leave it to my readers to judge.

Being a soldier, however, I am mystified by something else; a subject I am more familiar with: basic security measures. The attackers, reportedly, occupied an under construction fourteen story building which overlooks the US Embassy and the adjacent NATO HQ; a building in close proximity of both. Even to the meanest military mind, it posed an obvious threat for just such an attack and American troops in Afghanistan are obsessed with security; as they should be, considering the number of times it has been breached. How is it possible that there were absolutely no security measures to prevent it?

No sentries posted at the foot of the building to prevent attackers climbing to the top? No electronic, sonar, or laser sensors that could give warning? Nothing, nothing at all, or am I seeing something that is invisible to the US military?

Were they incompetent or complicit?

Very interestingly, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, and now the effective operational commander of the group, rang up from an undisclosed location to speak to a Pakistani daily. Not only did he categorically state that he had been in Afghanistan for some months past (a fact I can testify to), but added that he no longer needed succor, even occasionally, in North Waziristan, NWA, Pakistan. That his following in Afghanistan had grown to the extent that he was safer in Afghanistan.

In response to a direct question, he refused to accept or deny responsibility for the attack; which, if he was responsible for it, is surprising. (A Taliban spokesman, however, did accept responsibility for the attack.) Most interesting was Siraj’s comment, which no one seems to have adverted to, that “we are in contact with the Taliban”, implying thereby that he was not a Taliban, but an “Afghan Freedom Fighter” against a foreign army of occupation.

That is the status that Haqqani; father and son, have always claimed: Afghan Freedom Fighters; and have now been elevated , by the US singling them out since 2009, as the only group that really posed a threat. In 2008, US estimated their group to consist of less than 5,000; today they are estimated to have a following of 15,000, and growing. ISAF’s initial report in 2009, under Stanley McChrystal, categorically advised that the US should be prepared to negotiate with all factions of the Taliban, except the Haqqani Group. I have never understood why this group was singled out. The only reasonable explanation that comes to mind is that perhaps, Mc Chrystal, probably incorrectly, since Mulla Omer is just as intractable, identified Jalal as the one man who would not compromise with a prolonged US presence in Afghanistan.

Whatever the reason, increasing number of Afghans who want to see the back of the Americans are flocking to the Haqqani banner.

Finally; another small question that worries me: if these, Haqqani Group attackers did indeed come from NWA to Kabul, the shortest route leads through the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Logar, a distance of approximately 170 kilometers, as the crow flies; but the actual route is much longer. Khost hosts an American airbase, the Combat Team of 3rdBrigade, 1st Infantry division, Camp Clark, and Forward Operating Base, FOB, Salerno. I-279 Infantry, FOB Lightning, and I-10 Attack Aviation are located in Paktia. In Logar, adjacent to Kabul, are 4 Mountain Division, an Engineer Battalion, FOB Shank, and a Combat Team. All of them equipped with high-tech Force Protection Facilities, which includes every conceivable detection device available.

Knowing how the Afghan freedom fighters/Taliban operates, sneaking through in ones and twos, it is possible for them to sneak through this intricate web of US bases, but it certainly does not reflect too well on the state of security, intelligence, and extremely high-tech early warning systems that American forces possess: incompetent, incapable, or complicit?

The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani

On September 20th, exactly a week after the daring attack on the US Embassy, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was killed by a suicide bomber. Two (supposed) emissaries of the Taliban, were brought by Muhammed Maasoom Stanikzai, also a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, and a trusted friend of Rabbani. Understandably, they would not be submitted to a body search. Presumably, however, knowing that Rabbani was treading on dangerous grounds and in danger, there would have been the usual security machines and sniffer dogs that can smell out explosive?

If these were there, why was there no warning? If they weren’t, why weren’t there any? Was there complicity or incompetence?

But please wait, it is more interesting when the perspective to this is added. February this year, Counterpunch carried an article by me titled, “Why did Joe Biden rush to Pakistan?” In this article, I explained how the so-called “Rabbani initiative” started to facilitate talks between all Afghan stakeholders, including Taliban, for the future of Afghanistan. That these talks would be exclusively between Afghans, excluding ALL non-Afghans, though negotiations with factions of those Taliban who count and the “Haqqani Group” would be facilitated by Pakistan. And that Rabbani got the nod of approval for this from Pakistan army’s chief.

In effect, therefore, Pakistan had a role to play, while the US did not.

It is also worth noting that Rabbani, a Tajik, had also adopted the Taliban stance that the Americans must pull out of Afghanistan, lock, stock, and barrel, and at the earliest possible.

Now there were Taliban who still found Rabbani unacceptable and were willing to kill him; he had a bloody history of targeting Pashtuns, along with other members of The Northern Alliance. Therefore, the very interesting response from Mulla Omer’s faction after his murder, “we cannot comment until we have carried out a thorough investigation.”

Clearly implying, that this was not an act on instructions from Mulla Omer but it could still have been carried out by ‘rogue’ elements from their ranks. If the reader refers to “Why Joe Biden rushed to Pakistan”, it will become obvious that Mulla Omer had accepted Rabbani as an interlocutor and, since Pakistan (GHQ) had given its blessings, Pakistan could not be interested in Rabbani’s elimination. And, if the Haqqani Group has any links with the ISI, neither would they.

A spokesman, who also identified himself as, Zabiullah Mujahid, also a name associated with Mulla Omer’s group, did call the Pakistani media to claim credit; which is actually meaningless, since all glory seekers would jump at the chance to claim credit for an ‘unclaimed hit’ on such a significant target. And who can identify a voice on the phone. What is more, this spokesman talked about an explosive-filled jacket, whereas it has been established by forensics, that the explosive was in his turban.

However, this murder was indeed carried out by mid level Taliban of Omer’s faction, the two individuals who were brought by Stanikzai, were acknowledged members of Omer’s group; but who let them in, but the real question is; why?


On the dangerous game of “Chicken” presently still ongoing, between the US and Pakistan, I will make a separate effort. Will someone blink; if so, who and when? But I had warned of this inevitability in another article carried by CounterPunch; “Has Pakistan declared its independence? This dog won’t come to heel”.

However, in this process of the final brinkmanship, in response to which Pakistan has picked up the gauntlet, the US has done Pakistan a great favor. I have frequently explained the logic behind the now irrelevant and immensely weakened Al-Quaida’s call to arms against Muslim states. It was based on the accusation that the leaders of Muslim majority countries have been bought, body and soul, by the US; and now the leaders are selling their nation to the US, identified as the Kafir(infidel) of all Kafirs — that same US which is at war with Muslims all over the world and backs Israel’s inhuman treatment of Palestinians. Therefore the leaders of these Muslim majority countries and their followers are also Kafirs; legitimate targets for all devout Muslims to kill.

However warped, that was the rationale and many Pakistanis, including the vast majority of non-militant ones genuinely believed this; and with good reason. Despite the fact that the Pakistani nation was unified in its determination to eradicate the scourge of terrorism within; it was still a nation lacking self respect and confidence in its leadership, due toPakistani subservience to the US.

By forcing Pakistan to defy it, to the extent of saying that Pakistan is, militarily, economically, and diplomatically prepared for all consequences, the US has restored Pakistani nation’s self respect and has united it against this common challenge. There is only one individual in this whole wide world capable of gifting us this miracle: the one and only; our dearly beloved uncle: Uncle Sam. I thank you Uncle, from the depths of my heart. That is one favor we, Pakistanis can never repay, and can never thank you for, sufficiently.

SHAUKAT QADIR is a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. 


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  • Willy  On October 1, 2011 at 2:34 am

    By forcing Pakistan to defy it, to the extent of saying that Pakistan is, militarily, economically, and diplomatically prepared for all consequences, the US has restored Pakistani nation’s self respect and has united it against this common challenge. There is only one individual in this whole wide world capable of gifting us this miracle: the one and only; our dearly beloved uncle: Uncle Sam. I thank you Uncle, from the depths of my heart. That is one favor we, Pakistanis can never repay, and can never thank you for, sufficiently.

    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 2:33 am

      I had no idea Pakistan, living off Charity of US Aid since 1953 and Loans since 1955, the country who’s Army was built by USA from the level of just 16 Tanks, the country who’s Air Force and Navy was started by USA from scratch, had any respect left after found back Stabbing its biggest Benefactor. If Pakistanis had any respect left for their Army, they are the lowlife of the world.

  • Najma  On October 1, 2011 at 2:46 am

    I liked this. Very interesting. Circulating this to my own list and other groups. Thanks. – Najma

  • Yasmeen Ali  On October 1, 2011 at 3:06 am

    In an exchange of thoughts with Eric Margolis a week ago, I told him I see something happening I had not expected in my life time:leftists,rightists,moderates,conservatives et al, unitizing on this one point!

  • Shaukat  On October 1, 2011 at 3:06 am

    And ain’t that the truth! We saw it didn’t we? Regretfully, we can also never return this favor to Uncle Sam; uniting its people!

    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 2:35 am

      You can not unite against even India if she attacks because majority of Pakistanis hate Punjabi Rule.

  • Ijaz Khan  On October 1, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Not a day passes by without US sabre-rattling and military leaks to media groups recalling past instances of Pakistani double-crossing while appearing to cooperate with the US in combating terror. For instance, The New York Times reported overnight of a brazen attack in May 2007 by Pakistani forces on US military officers and Afghan officials following a dispute mediation effort in which Pakistanis were themselves participants.
    Geostrategist and columnist C Raja Mohan, for instance, notes that:

    “Since the mid 1950s, one of India’s biggest national security challenges has been the US alliance with Pakistan. It now appears that the breakdown of that alliance might have even bigger consequences for India.

    “One is the prospect that China might replace the US as Pakistan’s principal ally. Rawalpindi’s current defiance of Washington can only be understood in terms of a rapid deepening of the China-Pakistan strategic partnership and a power shift away from the US towards China at the global and regional level.”

    This is US-India politics through & through!


    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 2:42 am

      But who told you China would come to help Pakistan if USA or India attacked Pak Military?
      After Osama incident Pak Army had tried to get a Defense Pact with China again. China refused. Told Gilani, USA has not designs on Pakistan and Pakistan should resolve her issues with India peacefully for good.
      Zardari was sent to Moscow, asking why Russia is not doing to USA, what USA was doing to USSR in Afghanistan through us?
      Russians laughed it off and put Zaradri back in his aeroplane.

  • Naveed Tajammal  On October 1, 2011 at 5:35 am

    After Reading the Article,it seems the Americans,are going for,’Self Inflicted wounds’,which is a Crime by itself,and Secondly,Uncle Sam Urgently needs to change His Spectacles,as the present are proving to be ,’Myopic’.

  • Khan Zia  On October 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

    If, as claimed the accusation against ISI Dte is based on cell phone calls, technology already exists that can pinpoint the location of the carrier even when the phone is switched off. Given this, it should not have been too difficult to intercept the persons who attacked the US installations in Kabul.

    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 2:53 am

      Correct. This is why USA, after eavesdropping on ISI had announced that it had caused bombing and destruction of Indian Embassy in Kabul. This is why India had also released the audio tape of conversation of Paki Terrorists conversing with ISI during Mumbai Attack.
      Mumbai Terrorists in that Hotel were getting step by step instructions as ISI Officers watched CNN telling them what was going on outside in that tape.
      Don’t you people get all the news in Pakistan?

  • Shaukat  On October 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I had intended not to respond to this. However, other friends have raised a query based on this email, so let me respond to all.
    Having admitted to my limited knowledge of technological developments, I have no hesitation in acknowledging that I am unaware of this assertion by Mr. Khan Zia. I therefore accept his assertion at face value as factually correct.
    However, in my article, I went farther than this issue to inquire how the CIA, having discovered the location, could identify the individual as being from the ISI.
    After all, any “intelligence handler” would not be making calls from the ISI HQ or one of its detachments; would he? As I stated, even for one, like myself, with NO exposure to the way spooks function, it would be obvious that if any ISI handler was involved, he/she would acquire a fresh sym for this one-time operation, locate him/herself at a considerable distance from Rawalpindi and, on the termination of the attack, destroy the sym; no?
    Can he/she still be traced?
    Finally, the days when ISI planned and ordered Taliban military operations is past history. Today’s Taliban could teach the ISI and, were someone audacious enough to even “suggest” what they should do, it is more likely that he/she would be ignominiously booted out! For anyone familiar with the current relationship, the idea of attackers of the US Embassy in Kabul reporting to, or receiving instructions/advice from the ISI is as preposterous as the Pakistan army planning military operations of American forces!

    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 2:59 am

      No sir. Its not Preposterous if CIA was already eavesdropping on that ISI Cell Phone and it was found in memory of the Cell Phone of a Dead Terrorist in Kabul. If what you are saying was possible, CIA could not have tracked down Osama.

  • Scott  On October 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Excellent piece Yasmeen. Shaukat Qadir is spot on. Thank you for posting. I’ll be sharing this one for sure. Please ask Mr. Qadir to send me a Facebook Friend request.

  • TMH  On October 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

    As expected from SQ, a very candid and informative article. One thing he conveyed the US parroted version
    of Abbottabad fiasco, that OBL was killed in Abbottabad, which was not the fact.
    As for the restoration of self respect to the nation, it was not lost, it was hurt but it was all the time there, that is
    why every Pakistani was feeling humiliated and wanted to reply to American insults, in a fitting manner.
    The question is, can we expect such a reply from such a leadership, who is taking orders and getting
    paid for their dirty work. They have no right to represent the of this nation, they have sold this nation for
    some dollars and green cards.
    I thank SQ for such a impressive narrative.


    • S U Turkman  On October 3, 2011 at 3:02 am

      Sorry but most of Pakistanis are not uniting behind Pak Military because they know, how much it lies. They are learning about Pak Military mischief, not getting mad at USA.

  • Ijaz ul Haq  On October 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Very well written explaining the complexities of Afghan war and a reason of US defeat. US could have won this war with Pakistan’s support. Unfortunately, they were mislead and are now on the verge of departing with heads down.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from Warid.

  • Admiral Sirohey  On October 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    An informative, well researched, reasoned and logical write up. We should have to wait a little more to extend our thanks. It should correspond to our suffering.


  • Dr Anwar  On October 3, 2011 at 3:34 am

    The answer is very simple. Israel, period. Neither Muslims nor Christians are benefiting form this war! When Mullah Umar banned heroin cultivation, the world drug mafia under firm Zionist control started having convulsions. Now every day truck loads of heroin is being pumped out of Afghanistan and sent to Europe and Americas. While people get addicted to this slow cancer Zionist mafia make trillions of dollars. This reopening was the prime objective of 911 and al-Qaeeda drama! Zionist companies which deal with war industry including banks and insurance companies and all sorts of supplies are making big profits and hence they will not like to see end of this war despite ruining of American and European economies. This is the price of slavery which Europe and America are paying. The only rescue for these countries is to hold firmly the rescue line i.e. rope of Allah i.e. Quran e Majeed. When Dr. Aafia hit the nail and tried to distribute copies of Quran in order to rescue America from this slavery, the judicial system under full Zionist control gave her and her children the most severe punishment. But she took it calmly as she can see the defeat of Zionist monster clearly. Allah will not leave those who fight against him. The Zionists failed to kill Jesus (PBUH) and were deceived; now same Jesus will be their death as Moses was to Pharaoh.

  • ljc  On October 9, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Hi. I agree with you – 100% +. Thank you for the information. Lukas.

  • S U Turkman  On October 9, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Yeah but could you tell us, why Heroin from Afghanistan has been arriving in Karachi for shipment to Middle East and Europe in Army Owned Trucking company NLC since Heroin Manufacturing started in this region, sir?

  • Andre Isakandar  On October 27, 2011 at 1:05 am

    make wonder why haqqani be problem on North Waziristan,because teh have trouble is Canada Soldier in south Waziristan,with some attack after jundullah accident;it mean the north only strategy to stop all activity in south;like devide et empera in Dutch system war in Colonialism;you care you cure

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