WASHINGTON, D.C. — A top Republican lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives has reintroduced a bill for the American government to officially designate “untrustworthy ally” Pakistan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, insisting that Islamabad has long “aided and abetted enemies of the United States.”
“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years,” stressed Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), the legislation’s sponsor, in a statement issued when the new bill was introduced Thursday. “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. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
“The bill requires the President to issue a report within 90 days detailing whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism,” explained the office of the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Rep. Poe. “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.”
Besides being assigned a different number (H.R. 1449), the new bill appears to be identical to the one introduced in September 2016.
The Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary for terrorists fighting against U.S.-NATO coalition in neighboring Afghanistan.
Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda leader, was found by the U.S. military in a walled compound less than a mile from Pakistan’s elite military academy.
In October of last year, Reuters learned that the current chief of the Afghan Taliban terrorist group, Haibatullah Akhundzada, “openly taught and preached” in Pakistan for 15 years, up until two days after he was named the jihadist organization’s new leader in May 2016.
The Pakistani government appears to have a warm relationship with Afghan Taliban terrorists, the most potent jihadist group in Afghanistan.
In April of last year, Islamabad hosted a “high-level” Taliban delegation.
U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declared last year that Pakistan has failed to take “adequate” action against the al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked Haqqani Network.
The Haqqani Network remains the “greatest threat” to the American military and its allies in Afghanistan, the Pentagon recently acknowledged.
As mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016, the United States stopped more than $300 million in military reimbursements to Pakistan for refusing to apply “adequate pressure” on the Haqqani Network, considered a “critical enabler of al-Qaeda” in the region.
Since the start of the Afghanistan war in October 2001, the U.S. has doled out an estimated $30 billion in American taxpayer funds to Pakistan for “security and economic aid,” according to the 2015 NDAA.
Gen. Nicholson has explicitly accused Islamabad of providing “sanctuary or support” to enable the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups inside Afghanistan.
Last year, the general noted that the Af-Pak region is home to the “highest concentration” of U.S.-designated terrorist groups globally — 13 in Afghanistan and seven in Pakistan.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency, told Congress last year that the majority of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have taken place in provinces that border Pakistan.
Afghanistan-based strongholds linked to the Taliban, its ally al-Qaeda, and their alleged rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) are all primarily located in territory that lies along the country’s border with Pakistan.
Although both groups are affiliated, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban consider themselves two distinct jihadist organizations. The two Taliban branches are operating under different leaders.
When he urged Pakistan to join other nations in combating jihadists operating on Pakistani soil, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that Pakistan is guilty of supporting terrorism.
Besides the United States, Afghanistan and India have also repeatedly accused Islamabad of backing terrorism. India is Pakistan’s regional rival.
Pakistan is part of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that has unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the Afghan Taliban to engage in face-to-face peace negotiations with Kabul. China, the United States, and Afghanistan are also part of the effort.