Pakistan says the recent killings of Haqqani network leaders in Afghanistan show that allegations Islamabad is harboring the terrorist group are misplaced.
Afghan and U.S. officials have long alleged that the Haqqanis use sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of its powerful spy agency to plot deadly cross-border attacks in support of the Taliban insurgency.
Pakistan's government has consistently rejected the claims.
“Since July this year, eight leaders and commanders of [the] Haqqani network alone have been killed in Afghanistan by ... U.S. and Afghan forces,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said on November 10.
He cited media reports of fatalities in U.S. drone strikes and ground actions performed by Afghan commandos as well as intelligence operatives, particularly in eastern and southeastern Afghan regions bordering Pakistan.
“The number itself, within this short period of time, is reflective of where the leadership of [the] Haqqani network is at the moment,” Zakaria said.
The U.S. State Department has designated the Haqqani network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization for carrying out deadly attacks against American and coalition forces and maintaining close ties to Al-Qaeda.
The State Department authorized a reward of millions of dollars for information leading to the location and arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the network’s chief.
The only known Haqqani leader killed in Pakistan is Nasiruddin Haqqani, an elder brother of the group’s fugitive head.
The slain leader had allegedly been residing near Islamabad and was gunned down three years ago by unknown attackers while buying bread at a local market.
The youngest brother among the Haqqanis, Annas Haqqani, is currently in custody in Afghanistan and was recently sentenced to death after being convicted on terrorism charges. The conviction is under appeal.
-- Reported and written by Voice Of America