UN orders sanctions against Haqqani militant group

UN orders sanctions against Haqqani militant group

UN orders sanctions against Haqqani militant group

Updated 6 November 2012, 21:44 AEDT

The UN Security Council has ordered global sanctions against a militant group accused of carrying out a string of murderous attacks in Afghanistan including against the US embassy and a major hotel in Kabul.

The network, which has been widely linked to Pakistan, is accused of carrying out a string of murderous attacks in Afghanistan including against the US embassy and a major hotel in Kabul.

Haqqani and its chief suicide attack organiser, Qari Zakir, also known as Abdul Rauf Zakir, were added to the UN's Afghanistan-Taliban sanctions list.

This means nations must apply an assets freeze and travel ban against Zakir and seize any assets belonging to the network as well as impose an arms embargo.

The United States put Haqqani on its terror blacklist in September while Zakir was added to its list of terrorist suspects on Monday.

The move has been welcomed by Kabul and the United States.

Admiral Rice says the UN move expands upon the US measures and "confirms the international community's resolve to end the Haqqani network's ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan.

He says Zakir, "has been involved in many of the Haqqani network's highest-profile suicide attacks and has trained individuals to use small arms, heavy weapons and improvised explosive devices."

'Double standard'

But some observers say sanctions against the Haqqani network won't have much impact on stability in Afghanistan.

The director of Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Fazil Rahman, says these groups are already "outlawed".

"They do not get any recognisable and clear cut support from any country or any state," he told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific.

"So putting sanctions on them, they can restrict their mobility, they can freeze their assets and they can try to do certain things which may not really have any greater impact on the ground situation."

Mr Rahman says the move may even prove to be counter-productive.

"Politically, yes, because they will be isolated. They'll be liable to international condemnation and all that," Mr Rahman said.

"There has to be a simultaneous political process, taking a political path towards reconciliation, because all these groups are Afghan groups.

"And at the end of the day, they have to live together. We need to facilitate and to give some room for intra-Afghan dialogue. I think Afghans are quite capable of sorting their differences by themselves."

Border security

Founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Haqqani military network is considered the most dangerous faction in the Taliban army in Afghanistan.

The UN designation said that the group was linked to Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and a string of militant groups in Pakistan including Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Jaish-i-Mohammed.

The Haqqanis have been blamed for spectacular attacks on Afghan Government and NATO targets across Afghanistan as well as kidnappings and murders

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, says operatives trained by Zakir attacked two international coalition bases in 2010, the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011 - an attack which killed 11 civilians and two Afghan police - and the US embassy in Kabul in September 2011, which killed 16 Afghans, including at least six children.

Afghanistan's spy agency said in August the network's operational commander, Badruddin Haqqani, a son of the founder, had been killed in a US drone attack.

The network is now believed to be led by another son, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

The designation could embarrass UN Security Council member Pakistan, with Haqqani members believed to be sheltering in the country.

Former US chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen said last year the Haqqani network had become a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Security strategist Fazil Rahman says Pakistan has been trying to clear the country's border regions of terrorist networks like the Haqqani and the Taliban.

"So far, I think this group has been very strong and they're located in an area where the capacity of the state to deal with them effectively is not great.

"Pakistan is unable to take any military action against these people, but as far as these activities are concerned, I think Pakistan does not approve at all. Pakistan has offered several time to fence several areas - entry/exit points of these insurgents - but there were serious objections by the Afghan government.

"They did not allow Pakistan to make fences on the border. So Pakistan's capacity to deal with such a long border is limited. Every day, more than 50,000 people cross the border so in that kind of situation, where there are more than 2.5 million refugees living in Pakistan, to close the border entirely is not." feasible."