US thinktank reveals Haqqani, Pakistan nexus
TNN Aug 3, 2012, 01.05AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Haqqani network in Afghanistan is a deadly source of terror attacks against Indian and US interests. But they are also emerging as a significant economic player in the AfPak region, getting into new businesses like rare earths mining, which are of interest to both India and China, making them a more complicated foe.
It also shows that the Haqqani network is closely intertwined with the state and security machinery in Pakistan. Its resiliency can be credited as much to military prowess as the Haqqanis capacity to network with Pakistans ISI, other militant groups (particularly al-Qaida) and key religious figures, according to a recent study by the CTC, a Pentagon thinktank.
(The study by CTC said that the dreaded Haqqani Network receives financial and logistic support from the Pakistani military. The study also said the Afghan Taliban-linked group has a massive network of "mafia"-style financing operation that relies on extortion, kidnapping, smuggling and ties to legitimate businesses, reports PTI)
The study said a joint US-Afghan geological survey, which estimated Afghanistan to have nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral wealth, located 980,000 metric tonnes of chromium oxide deposits buried beneath the provinces of Logar and Khost. These areas are controlled by the Haqqanis and despite there being no official mining leases being given out by the Karzai government, there are indications that the Haqqanis have entered the mining business unofficially. The report says that there is evidence of chromite being smuggled via Pakistan to China.
The Haqqanis' business interests would be of concern to India, because chromite, a rare earth oxide, is important for growing economies like India and China, because of its use in stainless steel. Chromite prices have climbed steeply, and India has expressed interest in rare earths mining in Afghanistan, so, if these findings are correct, New Delhi could come up against the Haqqani network for more reasons than one.
The study said, the Haqqani network's involvement in the chromite business in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a more recent development that highlights the networks capacity to organize quickly around a new business opportunity. It is also a story of chronic state weakness and ineptitude, illuminating how insurgents are able to exploit lack of regulation, coupled with chronic corruption in the Afghan and Pakistani governments.