Two American lawmakers have introduced legislation in the US Congress to designate 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, H.R 6069 or the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act, enjoins the U.S 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 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.
”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 on Tuesday announcing the bill.
The bill is largely symbolic considering the current Congress is now in its final days, and only a small fraction of the thousands of bill 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 and Indian lives.
”It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism.” Congressman 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 — Senators Mark Warner, Pete Sessions, and Tom Cotton among them — expressing sympathy for India. While many excoriated Pakistan, there was not one taker for Pakistan’s conspiracy theory that somehow India had staged a false-flag attack on itself to divert attention from the “Kashmir issue.” There were no takers for the “Kashmir issue” either.
If anything, the terrorist tag clung even harder to Pakistan following the arrest of the New York serial bomber who is now believed to have been radicalized after extended stays in Pakistan.
This is the first time in many years that there is talk of formally designating Pakistan a terrorist state. Such a measure was last discussed 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, mainly on account of the permissive terrorist eco-system the country’s military provides, Islamabad escaped punishment 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 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, 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 U.N, in which he is expected to highlight the “Kashmir issue” and India’s human rights violation in the state. While there are many critics of New Delhi’s policy in the state, in India itself and in the U.S., (including Congressman Dana Rohrabacher), the idea that Pakistan is a votary of peace or well-wisher of Kashmiris evidently does not sell in the U.S.