ISLAMABAD // Some questions and answers about the Pakistan-based Haqqani network and the potential impact of the Obama administration's decision to designate it a terrorist organisation:
Q: What is the Haqqani Network?
A: The Haqqanis have a record of carrying out high-profile attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul. The group is based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area but also has significant strength in eastern Afghanistan, the original home of the founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani. He made a name for himself in the 1980s when he fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, with extensive support from US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.
Q: What impact will the US designation of the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organisation have on the group?
A: The designation requires US financial institutions to freeze assets owned by the network and outlaws Americans from providing the group funds or material support. It can also prevent members of the group from traveling to the US. Many of the Haqqani Nsetwork's senior leaders have already been blacklisted individually, and that has seemingly had little effect.
Q: How many fighters make up the Haqqani Network and how much violence are they responsible for in Afghanistan?
A: A US defence official estimated the group's size at 2,000 to 4,000 militants. US officials have believe the network is responsible for less than 20 percent of all US and Nato casualties in Afghanistan.
Q: What is the Haqqani network's relationship with the Taliban and Al Qaeda?
A: It has pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but the group largely operates independently. The elder Haqqani developed close ties to Osama bin Laden during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The network's ties to Al Qaeda and other foreign militant groups have remained strong, one of the reasons why it has become such a potent force in Afghanistan.