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The Afghan Taliban says it supports Haqqani, not Pakistan

By Shaan Khan, CNN
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
Pakistani tribesmen have threatened the U.S. with holy war if it takes action against Haqqani extremists on the Afghan border.
Pakistani tribesmen have threatened the U.S. with holy war if it takes action against Haqqani extremists on the Afghan border.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The United States says Pakistani intelligence supports the Haqqani terror network
  • Pakistan says it has contacts with the Haqqani terrorist network, but no relationship
  • The Afghan Taliban says Haqqani takes orders from it
  • The United States and Pakistan has been in an uneasy alliance in the war against terror since 2001

(CNN) -- The Afghan Taliban has rejected U.S. allegations that the Haqqani terrorist network is supported by Pakistan, in an email CNN obtained Wednesday.

"Our bases are not in Pakistan nor do we reside outside of our country in insecure conditions," the email sent to Afghan and Pakistani journalists said. "All military and civilian activities in (Afghanistan) are our own initiatives and our own actions."

The response came less than a week after Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said that the Haqqani network, which has carried out a number of high-profile terror attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul and elsewhere, acted "as a veritable arm of Pakistan's intelligence."

Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the militant group, "only receives orders from their leader, Mullah Omar," according to the Taliban email that also said the U.S. allegations are "baseless."

Meanwhile, Pakistan continued to deny Mullen's charges.

"Very few countries have been ravaged by the monster of terrorism as brutally as Pakistan," Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in an address this week to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. "It is Pakistan's firm determination not to allow any space on its territory for militants and terrorists."

Washington's allegations have strained ties between the two countries, which have been in an uneasy alliance in the war against terror since 2001.

The relationship between Pakistani intelligence and the Haqqanis goes back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States supported the mujahedeen resistance. Intelligence officials believe Pakistan still regards the Haqqanis as an important tool in countering Indian influence in Afghanistan and helping shape any future peace process in line with Islamabad's priorities. With an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 fighters, the Haqqanis' close relationship with both the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban makes them an important player in the region.

Major General Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, acknowledged the service has had contacts with the Haqqanis.

"Any intelligence agency would like to maintain contact with whatever opposition group, whatever terrorist organization ... for some positive outcome," he told CNN in a telephone interview this month.

However, those contacts do not mean that the ISI supports or endorses the organization, he added.

Western counterterrorism officials believe that contrary to Pakistan's assertions, the Haqqanis rely on Pakistani territory -- specifically North Waziristan and the Khurram agency -- to organize, resupply and raise funds.

The Haqqanis are widely regarded as one of the most effective militant groups in Afghanistan. Western intelligence officials believe the Haqqanis were involved in the assassination this month of the Chairman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June. Rabbani himself alleged that the group that attacked the hotel had been in phone contact with people in the town of Miranshah in the Pakistani territory of North Waziristan, long regarded as a stronghold of the Haqqani network.

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