Washington: Running out of patience on double standards by Pakistan in combating terrorism, top US lawmakers Tuesday called for cutting financial aid and imposing sanctions against it while prominent think tanks said it is time to consider putting Pakistan on the list of state sponsor of terrorism.
"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 the funding is not going to be enough, he said and sought for additional measures.
"Those who suggest giving aid to Pakistan need to give justification for using the tax payer’s money," Congressman Brad Sherman, Ranking member of the subcommittee joined Salmon and other lawmakers for actions against Pakistan.
Congressman William Keating, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade argued that there is little reason to believe that Pakistan is going to change its policies of using terrorism as a tool to meet its strategic needs.
Two of the top al Qaeda leaders have been killed in Pakistan, he said.
Keating that the US arms supply to Pakistan is unlikely to help it in the fight against terrorism, but would arm it to be used against India.
Meanwhile, former top diplomats and think tanks said it is time that US consider putting Pakistan on the list of 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 former top American diplomat of the Bush Administration, who played a key role America’s policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq after 9/11, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
"It is also clear that the Pakistani military and intelligence provide sanctuary and support to the Taliban," Khalilzad said and described in detail the duplicity of the Pakistani leadership.
"I believe we need to consider a different policy... One of increasing the cost of the policy of Pakistan," he said and called for additional drone attacks against terrorist groups.
He suggested specific sanctions against individuals in Pakistan military and ISI officials.
"We also need to suspend all military and non-education assistance," he said in his testimony during the hearing titled 'Pakistan: Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?'. It was jointly convened by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade and Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Bill Roggio, Senior Editor Long War Journal Foundation
for Defence of Democracies said Pakistan myopically supports a host of terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to further its goals in the region.
"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.
"All funding should be stopped. We have to consider the possibility of Pakistan being a state sponsor of terrorism," he urged the lawmakers.
Pakistan he said uses six terrorist groups -- the Afghan Taliban and its subgroup, the Haqqani Network; the Mullah Nazir Group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, and Jaish-e-Mohammed -- as an instrument of its foreign policy.
"These six groups are by no means the only terrorist organizations supported by Pakistan, they are merely the most prominent," he alleged.
Tricia Bacon, Assistant Professor, American University, said Pakistan's security establishment judges groups based on their utility vis-?-vis India based on its deep-seated belief and fear that India is inherently aggressive towards Pakistan and its ongoing dispute with India over Kashmir.
Bacon said the relationships between the Pakistani security establishment and Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohamed, the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban may bend, but they are unlikely to break.
"I am skeptical of Pakistani pledges that they will deal with the 'good militants' once they have taken care of the 'bad militants'," Bacon said.
"Pakistan’s long history of ties to terrorist groups, including those with American blood on their hands, is well documented," alleged Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade.