Two academics examine the current trends in covert drone wars.
A Haqqani network weapons cache cleared from Paktika province, Afghanistan.
Image courtesy of isafmedia.
Relations between the US government and Pakistan have soured dramatically in recent months, and a ProPublica piece charts the mounting evidence that Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI, may be supporting the groups that are fighting the US Army in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a key ally for the US in the Afghan war. But events including the CIA’s covert drone war in the Pakistani border region of Waziristan and the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living in a Pakistani suburb have driven relations between the countries to a dangerous new low.
Now senior US officials claim that the ISI has been backing the Haqqani network, the militant group based in Pakistan that carried out the September 13 siege of the American embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. The siege lasted 20 hours and killed 27 people, and was the most audacious attack yet by the Haqqani network, which has a long history of targeting US targets in Afghanistan.
US defence secretary Leon Panetta has accused the Pakistani government of providing a haven for the Haqqani network, while Admiral Mike Mullen openly accused the ISI of backing the Haqqani network – charges the Pakistani government has angrily denied.
The Pakistani government has said it won’t be pressured by the Americans into pursuing the Haqqani network – and US officials have not ruled out acting unilaterally within Pakistan.
ProPublica outlines further links between the ISI and several other terrorist groups operating both within Pakistan and abroad, and even suggests Pakistani officials may have helped Osama bin Laden’s accomplices escape Tora Bora in 2001.