Even though sentiment runs high against Pakistan on US Capitol Hill, the move to designate it as a terrorist State is unlikely to find much support, either from Congressmen or the Obama administration, reports Aziz Haniffa from Washington, DC.
Condemnation of the terrorist attack on the Indian Army base in Uri in Kashmir flowed fast and furious by US lawmakers from across the aisle in Congress, with the likes of Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, leading the way.
On the House side, US Congressman Ted Poe, Texas Republican, introduced legislation to designate Pakistan a terrorist State.
Along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Poe introduced legislation (HR 6069) to designate Pakistan as a State sponsor of terrorism.
“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally,” Poe said, “Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. 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. And it’s not America’s.”
Poe, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, said his bill would require the Obama administration to “formally answer this question,” and noted, “The president must issue a report within 90 days of passage detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism.”
“Thirty days after that, the secretary of state must issue a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is a State sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why Pakistan does not meet the legal criteria for designation,” Poe said.
“It is time,” Poe asserted, “We stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is -- a State sponsor of terrorism.”
The Uri attack, he said, was yet another reminder to “democracies the world over that terrorism seeks to destroy peace loving societies everywhere,” and while acknowledging, “It is still unclear which terrorist group carried out this cowardly attack,” said, “But one thing is certain -- 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 behaviour in this regard is a serious security risk to its neighbours and India unfortunately pays the price all too often,” the Congressman added.
“We condemn this tragic attack,” Poe said, “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. A threat to democracy in India is a threat to democracy everywhere. And that's just the way it is.”
Administration and Congressional sources told Rediff India Abroad that Poe’s legislation to designate Pakistan a State sponsor of terrorism was unlikely to receive support in Congress.
They noted that it would be strongly opposed by the administration, particularly by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, in addition to the state department, because even though these agencies were upset by Islamabad’s double-game, Washington still considered Pakistan, as one source said, “a necessary evil.”
“They would rather the clock run out,” the sources acknowledged, in a administration that was in its final months and would rather let a new administration “tackle this issue.”
The administration’s decision not to fight the Congressional decision not to approve 8 F-16s to Pakistan and also stall US economic and military largesse to Pakistan, the sources said, clearly showed that the administration, unlike in previous years, was not willing to go on a limb for Islamabad.
But, they argued, if Pakistan is designated “a terrorist and pariah State, we would lose the leverage we have on Pakistan, and it could become an even greater danger to stability in the region. The last thing we want is another North Korea on our hands with a nuclear arsenal.”
Image: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.