For Pakistan, Taliban Leader Outranks US
Islamabad backs off Haqqani, a crucial link to Afghanistan
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2009 4:55 PM CST
In this Aug. 22, 1998 file photo, Jalaluddin Haqqani, then Taliban Army Supreme Commander, speaks during an interview in Miram Shah, Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Riaz, file)

(Newser) – Pakistani officials are balking at pursuing a Taliban leader who poses a major threat to US forces in Afghanistan, underscoring their lack of faith in the Obama surge. Pakistan has made a separate peace with Siraj Haqqani, allowing him the use of North Waziristan as a base of operations after the Tablian's collapse in 2001. The country sees Haqqani as crucial to maintaining influence in Afghanistan after the US pulls out in 2011.

That Pakistan sees Afghanistan 2011 as a free-for-all in which India, China, Iran, and Russia will vie for influence shows lack of faith in the ability of the US military to enact lasting change, the New York Times reports. Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani military, has argued the nation has its hands full with Taliban militants attacking inside Pakistan—unlike Haqqani, who fights in Afghanistan. But Kayani also concedes his Afghan operations are the single most dangerous threat to coalition troops.