Washington: Pakistan’s “most powerful military man”, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, isn’t “a big fan of the Haqqani network” and would prefer a stable, peaceful environment on the border with India, suggests the top US military officer.
While sticking to his controversial remarks that the Haqqani network blamed for the attack on the US embassy in Kabul is a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency, retiring Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen Wednesday sought to make a distinction between Pakistan and its spy agency.
Asked if the Haqqanis were acting out at the direction of the Pakistani government, Mullen told NPR public radio in an interview that he had “talked about them supporting it”.
“When Gen. Kayani and I have talked about this in the past, he’s not a big fan of the Haqqani network. It’s a very lethal, very virulent insurgent terrorist group that you just can’t – you just can’t walk up to and eliminate.”
Asked if ISI was then out of the control of Kayani whom he had described as “the most powerful military man in Pakistan” Mullen said he believed it was in his control and was being used as an instrument of policy.”I don’t believe that. In fact, I believe it’s within his control,” he said noting that Pakistan has been “historically supporting” insurgent groups or proxies like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. “Quite frankly, historically, has been support has been LeT — and LeT, basically, originally created to focus on the challenges in Kashmir, yet — which is in the — on the eastern side of Pakistan.
“And they are now actually spreading west. But it’s part of the strategy, from my perspective, that is there to enhance the security of the country. That’s how it is thought about there,” he said.
“I think unlocking Kashmir, which is a very difficult issue on the Pak-Indian border, is one that opens it all up, and I think — I believe we have to continue to try to, all of us, figure out a way to work that as well,” Mullen said.
Asked if Kayani wanted to make a durable peace with India, Mulllen said: “In many discussions I’ve had with him, he would much rather have a stable, peaceful environment on both his borders than the one he has right now.”