US opens a new aggressive approach to Haqqani network: Report
The part of the new strategy is to carry out more dense missile attacks near the Haqqani headquarters in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah, a city rarely targeted in the past by American drones.
Washington: While keeping the option of targeted raids on top Haqqani leaders on the table, US administration has opened a new more aggressive approach towards the Afghan insurgent group, it asserts is supported by
The part of the new strategy is to carry out more dense missile attacks near the Haqqani headquarters in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah, a city rarely targeted in the past by American drones, the Washington Post reported, quoting senior Obama administration officials.
The opening salvos of the new approach have already been launched in the form of intensified drone strikes over North Waziristan. The US drones have struck the area four times in three days, claiming lives of 19 Haqqani insurgents,
including a ranking member Janbaz Zadran alias Jamil.
Zadran was a lieutenant of Badruddin Haqqani, the brother of network chief Sirajuddin Haqqani and was in-charge of communications and logistics for the Haqqani network.
The decision to strike Miranshah was made at a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Barack Obama two weeks ago and was intended to "send a signal" that the United States would no longer tolerate a safe haven for the most lethal enemy of US forces in Afghanistan, or Pakistan's backing for it, the post said quoting several US officials.
The strikes were made possible by focusing intelligence collection to "allow us to pursue certain priorities," the official said. The senior Haqqani figure, Zadran, was selected along with other targets to "demonstrate how seriously we take the
Miran Shah" threat.
Officials said military options debated at the 29 September meeting were set aside for now, including the possibility of a ground operation against Haqqani leaders similar to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.
Although the administration has left the raid option on the table, the potential negatives of such an operation — including the possible collapse of Pakistan's military leadership and civilian government — are seen as far outweighing its benefits.
Even as it cracks down on the Haqqani network, the White House has authorised more intensive reconciliation efforts with its leaders and those of other Afghan insurgent groups, leaving open a track initiated in August when US officials met
in a Persian Gulf kingdom with Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of the group's patriarch.
The meeting was arranged by Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who also attended, American officials said. The Post said along with military options, the US was also pursuing a drive to enlist South and Central Asian countries, including China, to join and support an international reconciliation effort in Afghanistan.
With major international conferences on the war scheduled for 2 November in Istanbul and 5 December in Bonn, Germany, "what we want to do is provide an international basis of support for a political outcome in Afghanistan" that will
match the military timeline adopted by NATO last November, the administration official said.
There has been widespread speculation that insurgent representatives may attend on the margins of either or both meetings, although "I wouldn't hazard a prediction at this point," the official said.
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