At his senate confirmation hearing yesterday, new Afghan commander Gen. David Petraeus said Afghan president Hamid Karzai denies ever meeting with a leader of the Haqqani network, the most dangerous of the numerous insurgent groups operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
An Al Jazeera press report over the weekend said that Karzai had met with Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has largely taken over day-to-day operations of the insurgent network from his father and famed mujaheddin commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, and members of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence directorate, the ISI. Karzai’s office issued an official denial of the report.
Petraeus told senators that he had spoken with Karzai multiple times by phone and had received his personal guarantee that press claims of a meeting with Haqqani were false.
U.S. intelligence officials now tell Bill Roggio that a face-to-face meeting between Karzai and Sirajuddin was impossible if for no other reason than Karzai is always accompanied by a heavy American security detail. The same officials do not dispute that backchannel talks to broker some sort of reconciliation and power sharing deal are underway between Pakistani intelligence, the Haqqanis and Karzai.
The Afghan insurgency is made up of three main groups: the Quetta Shura Taliban, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and the Haqqani Network (HQN). The Haqqani network is based in eastern Afghanistan and the Taliban controlled area of North Waziristan in Pakistan and is noted for its expertise in IED and complex attacks.
-- Greg Grant