Pakistan recently put Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, but the US has made clear it wants Islamabad to do more in its counterterrorism efforts.(AFP File)
“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years,” the Republican from Texas, who heads the House’s sub-committee on terrorism and non-proliferation, said while introducing the bill.
“From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cosy relationship with the Haqqani Network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror.”
The legislation (HR1449), called the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2017, requires US President Donald Trump to submit a report within 90 days of its enactment if Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. After 30 days, the secretary of state will be required to file a report saying Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism, or cite justification why it is not.
The new congress may just have picked up from where the last one left off, during with lawmakers of both chambers frequently referred to Pakistan as a “duplicitous ally” and a “frenemy” and asked for it to be named a state-sponsor of terrorism.
In an op-ed written jointly with former defence official James Clad on Wednesday, Poe called for a “radical reset” of ties with Pakistan, arguing, “Something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon.”
Poe had earlier introduced the bill in September 2016, which lapsed with the previous congress. If enacted, it will limit financial aid to Pakistan, ban defence exports and restrict exports of dual use.
The introduction of the bill comes amid fresh calls for harsher measures to force Pakistan to act decisively against terrorists using its soil to launch attacks across its eastern and western borders in India and Pakistan respectively.
Earlier in the year, a bipartisan group of leading experts on South Asia urged the Trump administration to be “ready to adopt tougher measures toward Islamabad”, even the threat of declaring it state sponsor of terrorism.
Since May 2011, when Osama bin Laden was found and killed in a house just miles Pakistan’s elite military school in Abbottabad, the one-time ally has been in a precipitous fall in US eyes. Lawmakers killed a proposal by the Obama administration in 2016 to sell Pakistan new F-16 fighter jets over latter’s failure to root out terrorists from its soil.
Nervous about the Trump administration’s making counterterrorism a priority, Islamabad recently put Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed — accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks —under house arrest.
However, the US has made clear it wants Islamabad to do more — a top general told the senate in a hearing on Thursday that to this date “the Pakistan military and security services have not taken lasting actions against HQN (the Haqqani Network)”.