Haqqani Network Leader Killed in Islamabad

The killing of senior Haqqani Network leader Nasiruddin Haqqani, who orchestrated scores of attacks against allied forces in Afghanistan, could jeopardize relations between Islamabad and Washington.

haqqani-pakistan-nasiruddinISLAMABAD, Pakistan — According to police sources, Dr. Nasiruddin Haqqani, the son of senior Haqqani Network leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, was shot dead Sunday night in the outskirts of the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

According to initial reports, unidentified gunmen on Sunday killed a leader of one of the most feared al-Qaeda-linked militant groups fighting US troops in Afghanistan, near the Bara Kahu area of Islamabad.

Nasiruddin’s death could jeopardize relations between Islamabad and Washington. For hours, Pakistani law enforcement agencies kept mum over the news.

Silence broke about 13 hours after the incident when a former Haqqani militant leader confirmed that the unidentified gunmen, riding a motorcycle, opened fire at Nasiruddin when he was returning home from a mosque. The confirmation came after long hours of deliberations and brainstorming between the country’s top civilian and military leadership.

Nasiruddin’s death in Islamabad has raised many questions about the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and whether the spy agency knew his whereabouts.

The US has repeatedly blamed Islamabad for supporting the Haqqani Network. Washington insists that Pakistan carry out an operation in North Waziristan to target the Haqqani Network and other militants who conduct cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders, however, have denied the presence of Haqqani militants on their soil.

Nasiruddin’s death came as a surprise to the Pakistani government, especially since he was operating so close to the Pakistani military near Islamabad. Nasiruddin is considered an important financier and emissary for the Haqqani Network, which is now led by his brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Nasiruddin, but it will likely spark suspicion that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and United States were behind it.

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Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.