Naseeruddin Haqqani Arrest Marks Beginning of Bigger Regional Battle in Pakistan

By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Despatch

The arrest of Naseeruddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, marks the beginning of a battle between the Pakistani security forces and the militants. The Friday attack in Mohmand tribal agency led by Al-Qaeda commander Ziaur Rahman is the first fierce reaction.

Appearing to answer US calls for greater toughness against the Taliban’s largest Haqqani networks operating on its border, Pakistan withdrew its ceasefire with militants and followed Naseeruddin Haqqani, an owner of a business outlet in Peshawar, who was traveling by car with four fellow militants from the city of Peshawar to North Waziristan when he was picked up by Pakistani agents. One of the men traveling with him was a senior Haqqani commander named Mullah Muhammad Jan.

This is the second arrest of Naseeruddin Haqqani. Earlier, in early 2009 Naseeruddin Haqqani was arrested by the Pakistani security agencies. Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud (now killed) secured his release by swapping some Pakistan army prisoners.

Haqqani’s arrest is a major policy shift. Only a few months back he was part of a back-channel talks with various players for a ceasefire with NATO forces in Afghanistan.

He had been at the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad in September. Further, the embassy had arranged for him and his family to go on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia (read Taliban peace talks come to a halt, Asia Times Online)

Haqqani was arrested immediately after the Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s recent visit to Kabul and following Admiral Mike Mullen’s unscheduled stop in Islamabad last week, delivering a message of “strategic impatience” to the government there. The arrest, therefore, indicates a loud and clear broader policy shift and for the start of a big battle between Pakistan and the militants.