Washington, March 10: A US lawmaker has introduced a bill in Congress to declare Pakistan a “state sponsor of terrorism” and sought a “radical reset” in ties between the two countries.
“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years,” Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, said as he introduced the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act (HR 1449) in the US House of Representatives on Thursday.
“From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the war on terror. And it’s not America’s. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” he said.
The bill requires President Donald Trump to issue a report within 90 days detailing whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism.
Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State is required to a submit a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is a “state sponsor of terrorism” or a detailed justification as to why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation.
“For years and, we would say, for decades, the US has acquiesced in a toxic relationship with Pakistan, putting up with this nominal ally whose military and security leaders play a lethal double game. Most dangerously, the ‘game’, involves headlong nuclear-weapons production and exporting Islamist terrorism,” Congressman Poe and James Clad, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asia, said in an article in Nationalinterest.org.
Poe and Clad wrote that Pakistan has become a quasi-adversary, receiving hundreds of billions through the years in direct and indirect US support.
“… a strange hostage-like arrangement in which we pay Islamabad to do what it should be doing anyway to protect its own domestic security and buttress Afghan stability,” the article stated.
They further wrote that the US has to change its accommodating stance vis-à-vis Pakistan, irrespective of trends in Indo-US relations.
“But something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon. Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option,” they concluded.
The bill comes as Commander of the US Central Command General Joseph L. Votel has said that Pakistan has not taken any lasting actions against the notorious Haqqani terrorist network operating on Pakistani soil.
In his statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Votel on Thursday said: “Pakistan remains a critical partner in the counter-terrorism fight. Twenty US-designated terrorist organisations operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, seven of them in Pakistan.”
According to him, as long as these groups “maintain safe havens in Pakistan, they threaten long-term stability in Afghanistan”.
Votel said the Haqqani Network is of particular concern to the US. “It poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.”
“The Pakistan Army and security services have (so far) not taken any actions against the group. We have consistently called upon Pakistan to take the necessary actions to deny terrorists safe havens and improve security in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),” he said.
However, the General said the US has “seen some promising coordination between the Pakistani and Afghan militaries to address instability in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region”.
He said the Pakistan Army continues to conduct counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the FATA and helps maintaining coalition operations in Afghanistan.
The Haqqani Network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani.
The group aligns with Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organisations in the South Asia region.
The US designated the group as a terrorist organisation on September 7, 2012.