By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States would be willing to negotiate with the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban if he met conditions that have been laid out.
Testifying at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Clinton did not dismiss the prospect when asked by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, whether reconciliation talks with the Taliban and other insurgents would include talking with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
"You don't make peace with your friends," she said, speaking just days after concluding a weeklong trip that included stops in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There first would have to be a demonstrated willingness on the Taliban's part to negotiate and to meet the conditions already laid out for joining negotiations, she said.
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is defending his country's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency against recent accusations by American officials that the agency is working with elements of the Haqqani network, which has targeted Americans in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
Musharraf delivered his remarks Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, where just weeks earlier, U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen - since retired as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - reiterated his belief that the Pakistani spy agency was directly linked to the terrorist organization. Mullen said the ISI played a direct role in supporting Haqqani members in a recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Musharraf said the agency is "certainly" not pro-Taliban or pro-al Qaeda.
"Why can't it be? Because Pakistan's army has suffered over 3,000 dead; because the same ISI, the much-maligned ISI, has suffered about 350 operatives dead, killed through suicide bombings. By whom? By Taliban, by al Qaeda, the same enemy," he told the audience. FULL POST
By Adam Levine
Hillary Clinton unveiled a new objective for Afghanistan that's being dubbed "fight, talk, build," with fight being the major emphasis.
The U.S. secretary of state said Thursday in Kabul, Afghanistan, that all three objectives need to done simultaneously and that the
"Under the circumstances, we must do all three at the same time," Clinton said. "So we want a very clear message to the insurgents on both sides of the border that we are going to fight you, and we are going to seek you in your safe havens, whether you're on the Afghan side or the Pakistani side. They must be dealt with."
From Jerome Starkey in Kabul, Afghanistan for CNN
NATO and U.S. forces are seeing a marked increase in infiltration into Afghanistan from Pakistan by the militant Haqqani network, a senior NATO official said Tuesday.
There has been a significant increase in the Haqqani network's activity in Khost, Paktia, Logar and Wardak provinces which are used in that order as an infiltration route from Pakistan, to launch attacks on the capital, the official said. The senior NATO official spoke to reporters in Kabul on the condition no name was used.
Whether or not NATO and the United States will have to provide more assistance to the Afghan security forces, particularly along the border with Pakistan, will depend on "the level of threat coming out of Miramshah" in North Waziristan, the official said. Miramshah is believed to be where the Haqqani network leaders are based.
Haqqani fighters are blamed for killing more than 1,000 coalition and Afghan forces. The official said Haqqani militants were behind a series of "spectacular attacks," this summer, including a 20-hour attack on the American Embassy, last month, and an assault on Kabul's InterContinental Hotel, in June, which left at least a dozen people dead.
NATO officials said there had also been a marked increase in the number of cross border attacks from Pakistan, but the insisted reports of artillery bombardments and heavy casualties were often exaggerated. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Tune in Sunday at 10a.m. ET/PT to watch Fareed Zakaria's full interview with Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
In his last official statement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen chose to publicly highlight the connections between the Pakistani military and the Haqqani network, one of the most deadly terror groups operating in Afghanistan. What Adm. Mullen said in public this week is something many U.S. government officials have felt privately for years. The question is: Why did Mullen feel it was necessary to speak publicly now?
By Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott
The United States will soon designate the Haqqani network, the al Qaeda-linked group considered to be a major threat against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as a foreign terrorist organization, U.S. officials tell CNN.
The anticipated move by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which would freeze assets, comes after several high-profile attacks on U.S. and NATO troops, as well as Afghan government and civilian targets, and public warnings from U.S. military officials that the Pakistan government refuses to stop the group from operating.
One official said action will be taken "fairly soon."
Under an executive order the State Department targeted what it calls the "kingpins" of the Haqqani network, including financiers, leadership and some of its most dangerous operatives. In 2008 it targeted Siraj Haqqani, in 2011 Badruddin Haqqani and Sangeen Zadran. The Treasury Department designated Nasiruddin Haqqani in 2010, and Khalil Haqqani, Ahmed Jan Zadran and Fazl Rabi in 2011.
Members of Congress, however, have been pressing for the entire organization to be named. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he'd asked for the designation.
CNN's Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib contributed to this report from Pakistan
The Pakistani Army has decided not to take action against the Haqqani network for the time being despite a fresh wave of intense pressure from Washington for a military offensive against the Pakistani-based militant group, two military officials told CNN on Monday.
The decision was made by senior Pakistani generals on Sunday in an impromptu meeting called by Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the officials said.
The military has decided not to target the Haqqani network because the army is stretched too thin with several other operations against militants in northwest Pakistan, one of the officials said. "We are not in a position to undertake an operation at this point," he said.
The officials asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The meeting by Pakistan's top general comes days after the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, accused Pakistan's top intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network and its attacks against U.S. targets in Afghanistan, including this month's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Mullen's statement has further ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and Washington and sparked a bitter war of words. FULL POST
By National Security Team Supervising Producer Adam Levine
In Mullen's final days as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs he is certainly pulling no punches, especially in regards to what the United States believes are dangerous ties between Pakistan's intelligence agency ties to the Haqqani network.
Appearing for the last time in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Mullen continued to criticize the Internal Services Intelligence agency (ISI), something he has been doing publicly over the last few days. Just this past weekend, Mullen met with his Pakastini counterpart and warned that a crackdown on the Haqqanis is needed.
Mullen said the Haqqani network is a "veritable arm" of the ISI.
"With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted" recent attacks including last week's assault on the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul.
Pakistan is "exporting" violence to Afghanistan, Mullen said. That violence, including attacks on U.S. soldiers, has led to the CIA targeting Haqqani insurgents in Pakistan, as Security Clearance reported on Wednesday.
Mullen's comments were part of a wide-ranging hearing with the chairman and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta defending the Obama administration plans in Iraq and Afghanistan. See full story HERE
By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
The Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. military have stepped up unilateral strikes against the Haqqani network over the past year, a senior U.S. official has confirmed to CNN.
The news follows public comments by top U.S. officials this week voicing frustration with Pakistan's lack of action against the terror network.
The senior official said the CIA and the U.S. military agreed last year to increase targeting of the Haqqani terrorist network inside Pakistan after Haqqani-backed insurgents stepped up their attacks across the border inside Afghanistan against U.S. troops and Afghan targets.
The Pentagon asked the CIA to step in last year and as a result, at one point in 2010, 20% of armed CIA drone attacks in Pakistan were aimed at Haqqani targets, the official said.
"A deliberate decision was made to start ramping up targeting the Haqqanis in 2010," he said. CIA drone attacks are specifically aimed at al Qaeda and their "militant allies," which has long allowed for groups like the Haqqanis and the Pakistani Taliban to be targeted.
The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information. He pointed out that the drone operations amount to unilateral U.S. action against the Haqqanis inside Pakistan, even as U.S. military forces have increasingly targeted Haqqanis inside Afghanistan.
But how successful either operations have been remains a question in light of the Haqqanis' continuing ability to stage high-profile attacks. FULL POST
By CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Islamabad, Pakistan
Whatever peace process there was in Afghanistan, there is probably little left today.
The assassination Tuesday of Professor Burhanudin Rabbani in his home by at least one suicide bomber who hid a device in his turban hasn't just again reminded residents of Kabul that even the safest areas are vulnerable to insurgent attacks. It's surely made insurgents who have even the slightest whimsy to negotiate think again.
The war in Afghanistan is, by NATO's own admission, one of perception. And things aren't being perceived particularly well right now. Just over a week ago, NATO's headquarters and the U.S. Embassy came under a sustained attack that some residents said seemed to need 20y hours to totally suppress.
And just back in July, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai - Ahmed Wali Karzai - was killed, also in his home, by another man who was thought to be friend, not foe. There are fewer reasons every day for Afghans to throw their weight behind the Americans, who are busy throwing their weight behind a timetable for departure.
"I think what you're seeing here is a deliberate attack by elements in the Taliban to make Kabul look unsafe, that the capital of Afghanistan is not a safe place, that no one is secure there, including the head of the peace council and a former president," said Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington. FULL POST