Haqqani Network in Taliban is like the butter in the milk. In my last opinion piece, we discussed broadly Taliban accession and its repercussion for various global players. Now Let’s talk exclusively from an Indian perspective.
How dangerous is the Haqqani network? Do they pose a risk to India? Do they have a collaboration with Dawood Ibrahim? Did Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed get a strategic state actor friend for militancy in Kashmir? India’s intelligence agencies might need a multidimensional risk aversive strategy and a game plan when we execute our Taliban diplomacy.
Might of Haqqani network
Although the Taliban has a strong backing of Pakistan and ISI, Haqqani specifically, has strong ties with Pakistan’s intel agency ISI and its infrastructure. The Haqqani network derived its name from Darul Uloom Haqqania, a religious seminary (Madrasa) located in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. The founder, Maulawi Jalaluddin Haqqani as well as the current headman, Sirajuddin Haqqani are former alumni of Darul Uloom Haqqania, which is also dubbed as the University of Jihad.
As per Cristine Fair, an American political scientist, the blunder made by the US in the war on terrorism was the step to make Pakistan its ally in Afghanistan, which provided an optimum safe haven for all kinds of terrorists in Waziristan. Whenever the insurgents, face a backlash they get retreated to Pakistan and recoup themselves, which was the primary contributing factor for the Taliban’s sustenance for the last 20 years. Haqqani network also allegedly assisted Osama bin Laden’s escape from the US drone strikes.
Haqqani network also levies taxes from narcotics logistics in its control area, which also provides a high chance of Haqqani gets associated with Organized crime kingpin Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar’s cash flow, which again a deadly alliance for India.
Haqqani Network | The sword arm of Taliban
Jaish-e-Mohammed recently congratulated the Taliban for its victory and requested Taliban fighters in Kashmir against India. Now they have become a state actor, which can be leveraged against India. Afghanistan’s economy is in a sham as of now, however, If they choose to help Kashmir-based militants they can still fund minor projects, which need to be addressed by India as soon as possible by establishing a backdoor communication with Taliban led government.
During the Soviet Invasion, Jalaluddin Haqqani was more than just an ally for the United States. Haqqani accumulated a briefcase of dollars from its American handlers to fight soviets and to fund its Jihadist activities. Until 1992, the Haqqani network was an entirely different organization from the Taliban, but before 1995, when it was confirmed that the Taliban is going to rule the country, the Haqqani network got merged with the Taliban, making them one of the major money channels for the Taliban.
Their prior experience with Americans helped them to secure enough funds from wealthy Arab sympathizers, especially from Doha. This skill set of Haqqani leaders, which lacked in many warlords within the Taliban helped them to wield enough power within the Taliban that made Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani and his team oversee security in the Afghan capital after the fall of Kabul. Another vital peculiarity of the Haqqani group is their influence to attract foreign jihadists like Uzbek, Chechnya, and Tajiks, which make them a bar above general Taliban’s who primarily utilize Local Pashtuns.
Anti-dotes in Possession
In 2012, the Haqqani network was listed in the United States Department’s Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations list and Pakistan was also forced to admit the presence of the Haqqani network on Pakistan soil and named them as terrorists to somehow escape the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list. These developments are India’s strategic victory to keep the Haqqani network in check from proliferating it to India, using Pakistan as a launchpad.
Northern Alliance, is another potential ally and insurance for India. If by any chance, the Taliban interfere in India’s internal matters or its national security. India’s allegiance to the norther Alliance will be a blow for the Haqqani network. The Northern Alliance aka the United Islamic National Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan was founded by Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was in the opinion that Afghanistan should be a democracy that should be ruled with consensus and a popular vote system. Massoud was also against the system of “the Emirate of Afghanistan”.
Massoud also warned that Afghanistan is being utilized by laden and Pakistan for terrorist activities. Now his son leads the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan a northern alliance-styled military front with the association of Amrullah Saleh, who claimed the Acting President position who strongly oppose the Taliban in favor of Rule of Law and proclaimed that won’t share the roof with the Taliban. All these factors are good for India. With the help of Central Asia and India can put a strategic wall to safeguard its interest in Afghan against Pak-led Haqqani and Taliban terrorist organizations.
Pakistan’s primary reason to support the Taliban is not India or the ‘strategic depth’ hypothesis, it is the Pashtun Nationalism that can tear apart Pakistan. So, they want to contain the Pashtun nationalism within Afghanistan by recruiting Pakistan Pashtuns into the Afghan Taliban. But Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or Pakistani Taliban is becoming an obstacle and the Afghan Taliban is on good terms with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Hence we have a sufficient amount of potential low-hanging fruits in the region.
In short, India should calibrate its strength and weakness when dealing with the new scenario in Afghanistan and should show some determination and a proactive approach. Wait and watch attitude should be resumed at the same time behind the curtain planning and bandwagoning should be strengthened further. Of course, we don’t want to put our soldiers in Afghanistan, but we cannot afford to be a bystander in the overall theatre. Because at the end of the day. If we can’t influence our neighborhood, What kind of aspiring Super Power are we?