Decision on Haqqani network: Could Pakistan be declared a Terrorist State?

Dawn: The US Senate’s unequivocal endorsement of a bill demanding a terrorist label for the Haqqani network was widely expected, yet it will impact the Pak-American equation in ways that both would like to avoid, especially considering the seven month political impasse that was just recently overcome. In Washington, the White House’s position that action against the Haqqani network should be delayed if that meant negotiations with the Taliban, possibly including the Haqqani network, could be started, no longer seems sustainable. With the combined weight of the House and Senate coming down on this particular policy, coupled with the Pentagon’s open calls for action against the network, it is unlikely that the Obama White House can fend off the pressure, particularly in an election year.

Nearer home, just this week the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP’s) leadership threatened to mount savage attacks against the state should Islamabad submit to mounting international pressure to move against the Haqqanis. While the TTP’s war on the state is hardly a secret, the open threat confirmed that the nexus between the Haqqani network and the TTP is only too real, that the former, the intelligence agencies’ nurtured proxy, is in bed with the state’s existential nemesis in the shape of the latter. Hopefully, this will finally jolt the security apparatus out of its complacency. Should Obama sign the bill into law, which is very likely, Islamabad could face UN-imposed international sanctions for harbouring a terrorist organisation on Pakistani soil. On the other hand, should the Pakistani security establishment decide to cut its ties with the Haqqani network, there is a very real possibility of a violent blowback, which the security agencies do not seem equipped to handle presently.

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