Washington, July 14 (IANS) Amid efforts at a political settlement with Afghan Taliban, the new American military commander in Afghanistan is pushing to have top leaders of the Pakistani Haqqani network designated as terrorists, according to the New York Times.
Gen. David H. Petraeus broached the idea of blacklisting the group late last week in discussions with President Barack Obama's senior advisers on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the influential US daily said Tuesday citing several administration officials.
The idea is being seriously considered, the Times said. But "such a move could risk antagonising Pakistan" and "also frustrate the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is pressing to reconcile with all the insurgent groups," it said.
"The case of the Haqqani network, run by an old Pakistani warlord family, underscores the thorny decisions that will have to be made over which Taliban-linked insurgents should win some sort of amnesty and play a role in the future of Afghanistan," it said.
From its base in the frontier area near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani is suspected of running much of the insurgency around Kabul, the capital, and across eastern Afghanistan, carrying out car bombings and kidnappings, including spectacular attacks on American military installations, the Times said
It is allied with Al Qaeda and with leaders of the Taliban branch under Mullah Omar, now based near Quetta, Pakistan.
But the group's real power may lie in its deep connections to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which analysts cited by the Times said sees the Haqqani network as a way to exercise its own leverage in Afghanistan.
General Petraeus has publicly expressed alarm about the network and has talked about his desire to see the Pakistani military act more aggressively against the group's stronghold in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan.
In testimony before a senate panel last month, Petraeus said he viewed the network as a particular danger to the mission in Afghanistan.
He said he and other senior military officers had shared information with their counterparts in Pakistan that showed the Haqqani network "clearly commanded and controlled" recent attacks in Kabul and against the Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, which is controlled by the United States.