Washington: There is no move by the US to begin the process of designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, officials said, after the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed the Congress that the Haqqani network is being designated as a global terrorist organisation.
Such a statement from senior US officials, who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity, came as a top Pentagon official had last year termed the Haqqani network as a veritable arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
"Why isn`t this a step towards looking at Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism at this point?" a journalist asked senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the action initiated against the Haqqani network.
"I want to just unequivocally state that this in no way is the consensus, unanimous view of this Administration; that we are making absolutely no effort to begin a process to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism," the senior administration official said.
"If anything they (Pakistan) have been an extremely valuable ally in countering extremism and terrorism, and we are committed to continuing and maintaining and increasing that coordination and cooperation," the official said when a journalist asked about the statement made by Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, to the Congress that Haqqani network is a veritable arm of the ISI.
"With regard to Chairman Mullen`s comments, I hope you also remember that he took great strides at the time to say there was too much focus on the first part of his statement and not on the second part, which was that we had to continue that engagement, we had to continue our efforts. We are doing just that," the official said.
"So we have always said that we are troubled by safe havens that the Network has in Pakistan and that we will continue to work together with the Pakistanis to squeeze this, and there`s more that we can do. This is part of that ongoing effort," the official said.
Another senior administration official said that there has been a misperception that there`s some kind of relationship between an FTO designation and a state sponsorship one.
"There is none," he asserted.
"I think it`s important for people to understand that there`s no legal relationship between these things.
"In plenty of countries, we have had groups designated and it`s never made any difference in terms of our deliberations regarding the bilateral relationship with that country, except of course to strengthen our resolve to work with them to deal with their extremism problem.
"So I think it`s very important that that be fully understood," the official said.
Later a State Department official said that the two are different issues.
"The issue of state sponsorship of terrorism is wholly separate and completely different from designating individual terrorist networks," the State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell said.
"So there are plenty of places when individual countries that may have a terrorist network inside that are not state sponsors of terrorism.
"We`ve been concerned about safe havens. We continue to raise with the Pakistanis our desire for more pressure on the Haqqanis. It`s something that we raise with them frequently, and we will continue to do so," Ventrell said.
However, Ventrell expressed very deep concerns about safe havens in Pakistan.
"We raise these type of issues, like about the safe havens, through the channels that we have opened with them," he said.
"So it`s a challenging and complex relationship, but as the Secretary said, it`s a critical relationship. The Pakistanis have a shared desire and a shared goal of combating terrorism as well," he said adding that the two countries have a shared enemy, a shared goal here.
"We keep these lines of communication open. We want a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan, and we think we`re on the right trajectory.
"So no doubt that there have been some complex issues, but we continue to be on the right track, Ventrell said.
"We want the Pakistanis to put more pressure on the Haqqani Network. It`s something we raise with them. They have a common enemy in terrorism, and so we`ll continue to work together to put the squeeze on the Haqqani Network.
"They`ve targeted us, our people, our facilities, and so we think it`s very important to put the squeeze on them, and so that`s our message," the spokesman said.