Congressmen for aid cut, experts want Pakistan on terror list
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Top US lawmakers on Tuesday called for cutting financial aid and imposing sanctions against Pakistan, but ex-diplomats and experts backed the idea of designatingthe country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Pakistan now is a state sponsor of terrorism. There is no question that ISI supports the Haqqani network, which we regard as a terrorist network,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, a diplomat in the Bush administration.
Having played a key role in shaping America’s policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, Khalilzad told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing: “It is also clear that the Pakistani military and intelligence provide sanctuary and support to the Taliban.”
He described in detail the duplicity of the Pakistani leadership, in particular during the Musharraf regime. He believed Pakistan needed to pay the price for such a policy.Pakistan’s ability to manipulate the American system had been effective, he noted.
“I believe we need to consider a different policy….one of increasing the cost of Pakistan’s policy,” he said, urging additional drone attacks against terrorist groups.
He suggested specific sanctions against individuals in the Pakistani military and ISI. “We also need to suspend all military and non-education assistance,” he said and argued the US and Afghanistan should jointly approach the UN Security Council.
Washington should also consider putting Pakistan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, he said. “Factually it is,” he argued during the hearing, jointly convened by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Patience (on Pakistan) is growing very thin,” Congressman Matt Salmon, chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. Just cutting off funding was not going to be enough, he added.
Those supporting aid to Pakistan needed to give justification for using the tax payer’s money, said Congressman Brad Sherman, ranking member of the subcommittee. He joined Salmon and other lawmakers in calling for action against Pakistan.
Congressman William Keating, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade, saw little reason to believe Pakistan was going to change its policy of using terrorism as a tool to meet its strategic needs.
Bill Roggio, senior editor of Long War Journal Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Pakistan myopically supported a host of terrorist groups in the region to further its goals.
“Pakistan backs these groups despite the fact that they are allied with and aid the very terrorist groups that fight the Pakistani state. In addition, many of the jihadist groups sponsored by Pakistan are allied with al Qaeda,” he said.
Pakistan, he alleged, used six terrorist groups -- the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network; the Mullah Nazir Group, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideenand Jaish-i-Mohammed -- as an instrument of its foreign policy.
“These six groups are by no means the only terrorist organisations supported by Pakistan; they are merely the most prominent,” the editor explained.
Tricia Bacon, assistant professor at the American University, said Pakistan’s security establishment judged groups based on their utility vis-à-vis India, its deep-seated fear that Delhi was inherently aggressive and the dispute over Kashmir.
Bacon said the relationships between the Pakistani security establishment and Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohammad, the Haqqani Networkand the Afghan Taliban might bend, but they were unlikely to break.
“I see the decrease in violence from terrorist attacks as temporary in light of Pakistan’s inaccurate diagnosis of the source of the threat as externally driven, its support for groups that work closely with its adversaries, deep systematic flaws in Pakistan’s counter-extremism institutionsand the ongoing cycle of retribution,” she said.
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