Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN | Sep 21, 2016 : WASHINGTON: Two American lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation in the aimed at designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism in a humiliating setback to Islamabad ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech before the UN General Assembly.
The bill, HR 6069 or the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act, enjoins the US administration to make a formal call on the matter within four months of its passage.
The President will have to issue a report within 90 days detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State will have to issue a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is state sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why Pakistan does not meet the legal criteria for designation.
The text of the bill cited multiple infractions by Pakistan in its sponsorship of terrorism, including US threat assessments threat assessments that revealed “Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) facilitated al-Qaida’s movement of fighters to and from Afghanistan as well as the terrorist organization’s purchase of weapons.”
The bill was moved by Congressman Ted Poe from Texas, who is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, who is a strong votary of the Baloch cause. Both are Republicans.
“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring 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,” Poe said in a statement announcing the bill.
The bill may be largely symbolic considering the current Congress is now in its final days, and only a small fraction of the thousands of bill it takes up become law in any case. But it is powerful expression of the mood among lawmakers increasingly agitated about Pakistan’s ceaseless backing of terror groups that are taking American lives along with Indian and Afghan lives.
“It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism.” Poe said.
In a separate statement ahead of the bill, Poe condemned the terrorist attack on the Uri military camp in India, saying this is just the “latest consequence of Pakistan’s longstanding irresponsible policy of supporting and providing operational space for all stripes of jihadi terrorist groups.”
“Pakistan’s reckless behavior in this regard is a serious security risk to its neighbors – and India unfortunately pays the price all too often. We condemn this tragic attack, as well as Pakistan’s support for many criminals like the ones who carried it out, and stand firm in our commitment to our friends in India,” Poe said.
Several Congressmen and Senators flagged the Uri attack for attention, expressing sympathy for India. While many excoriated Pakistan, there was not one taker for Pakistan’s conspiracy theory – widely expressed in its media by its anchors, analysts, and commentators — that somehow India had staged a false-flag attack on itself to divert attention from the “Kashmir issue.” The same crowd typically ascribes 9/11 to Americans, Jews, and anyone else except the acknowledged masterminds.
Despite the efforts at self-exculpation though, the terrorist tag clung even harder to Pakistan following the arrest of the New York serial bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami who is said to have been radicalized after extended stays in Pakistan. The episode has brought further attention to the terrorist eco-system in Pakistan selectively fostered by its military and political elite.
This is the first time in many years that there is talk of formally designating Pakistan a terrorist state. Such a measure was last considered in 1993 after Pakistan engineered the Mumbai serial blasts through Dawood Ibrahim, killing 259 people in a terrorist attack that was a precursor to many such attacks across the world, including in New York, London, and Madrid.
Despite Pakistani footprints and fingerprints on many of those attacks arising from the permissive terrorist eco-system the country’s military provides, Islamabad escaped punishment, mainly by pretending to be an ally in the war on terror. That pretense has now been formally laid to rest, and many US generals, officials, and analysts – and now lawmakers — have affirmed that Pakistan has played a double game – ripping off American tax payer dollars from a plaint US administration while nurturing terrorists who kill not just Indians and Afghans, but also American civilians and soldiers.
All this had bubbled over literally on the morning of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech before the UN, in which he is expected to highlight the “Kashmir issue” and India’s human rights violation in the state.