Book Review: Non-fiction/ Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus by Wahid Brown and Don Rassler, Hachette, 320p; Rs650 (Hardback)
The Haqqani network’s area of operation, the fountainhead of Jihad-Durand Line accidentally adjoins the international border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This part of the world is largely unexplored for the intellectual communities, living on its periphery or located distant. So, Wahid Brown and Don Rassler open new chances to look on a terrain, known for all the bad reasons.
At the beginning, authors examine the origination of Haqqani network from Southeastern Afghanistan and the role played by the Haqqaniya seminary in northwestern Pakistan in its mushrooming. The Haqqanis are rooted in both these countries and ensured a never ending conflict between them. Pakistan has been maintaining a closer relationship with the Haqqanis, once the direct American support for the Haqqani network ended in the early 1990’s.
Though as the book confirms, Pakistan never felt shy in tying up with Haqqanis. Its military support for the Haqqanis began in the 1970’s when Pakistan looked to Afghan Islamists for countering Moscow-leaning Afghan government-this way Pakistan started the proxy war with Afghanistan, which continues to this date.
The book gives detail in great deal about the base of Haqqanis-Zhawara in the province of Khost-also establishes CIA/ISI’s direct support to this deadly terror network in their opportunistic quest. In anti-Soviet days, the nexus among them was running high-further the support from Arab for anti-Soviet Mujahidin: ‘Abdullah’ Azam and Osama bin Laden made the ‘global Jihadism’ imminent.
The Haqqanis continue to support a group of regional and transnational militants from their hub in North Waziristan. The Haqqani network has survived for more than four decades, and this through a carefully balancing act, which ensured its prominence in nexus of violence. Also, these militants have kept them away from the command of Talibanis.
The Haqqanis have lived the tussle of contradiction with Taliban and other local/global forces playing the dirtiest game in Af-Pak regions. Since the US entered in Afghanistan to revenge 9/11, Al-Qa’ida and a segment of the Pakistani Taliban (in particular the Tehrik-a-Taliban Pakistan) are at war with the Pakistani state-still, Pakistan has to support the US in its war against Taliban and the TTP, as it’s caught in alarming spiral.
On the height of wildness, the Haqqanis appearing as a platform for the delivery of violence that serves their various interests, and also strengthen the Haqqani network’s strategic position in North Waziristan and Loya Paktia. One of the major plank of the nasty game is to limit the influence of India in India-Pakistan is quite determined for it, and so paying big price with embracing the unregulated stock of terror.
The Haqqanis are the natural ally in this covert war against India-the US is enabling a meantime engagement, but the real goal of these terror networks is much dangerous, than it appears in casual looking on their mode of action. The book provides otherwise a sensible analysis of the ground realities from world’s most difficult terrain, except missing the end results of Cold War and the stake of India in the trouble surfaced post1990.
The book could have better enquired about the impact of Afghanistan’s vandalism by British/Soviets/Americans/Pakistanis/Talibanis and Haqqanis on Kashmir-the root cause of Kashmir conflict, has bigger and diverse dimensions. Ofcourse, the role of Cold War was most atrocious among them-although, the realisation is still dim on this particular aspect and probably that prolonging the unease in valley. The book is a good read, as it opens the world of terror, with no superficial hype!
-Atul K Thakur
(Published in Rising Kashmir on April20,2013)