Act against Haqqani network or lose aid, Pak told



Act against Haqqani network or lose aid, Pak told Washington: US lawmakers have introduced a legislation in the Congress to divert American aid meant for Pakistan to the Mexican border until Islamabad takes concrete and satisfactory action against Haqqani terrorist network.

Fearing that some of the aid running into billions of dollars could end up in the hands of the Haqqani network, the lawmakers voiced concern as the dreaded terror group is believed to be behind suicide attacks in Afghanistan responsible for hundreds of American deaths.

The legislation introduced by Congressman Michael McCaul, and co-sponsored among others by the Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, would require the Secretary of State to certify to Congress that Pakistan is not aiding, assisting, advising or informing the Haqqani terrorist network in any way.

Otherwise US aid to Pakistan will be cut off and redirected toward fighting Mexican drug cartel violence on US-Mexican border, the legislation says.

In a statement, McCaul said this year the State Department is requesting USD 2.4 billion in civilian and security assistance to Pakistan, some of which could end up in the hands of the Haqqani network.

But, the legislation does not seek to touch Defence and intelligence aid.

"When I met with (Pak) President (Asif Ali) Zardari he expressed a commitment to eradicating the Haqqani terrorist network, but I am not convinced that he has enough control over his military and intelligence to follow through," said McCaul, who led a Homeland Security Committee delegation to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq in November.

"I tried to make it clear to him that foreign aid from the US is in jeopardy. In my view it is an absurd foreign policy to indirectly fund a terrorist network that has killed Americans and continues to plot against us," McCaul said. During a Congressional hearing on Wednesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had acknowledged links between elements of Pak establishment and terrorists.

"There is no doubt in my mind that certain elements of the Pakistani government are more ambivalent about cracking down on terrorism than other elements," Clinton said.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen stated that the Haqqani network is operating with Pakistan's support.

Mullen said there is credible evidence that an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011, a suicide bombing targeting US troops in the Wardack Province in September 2011, and an attack on the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011, were conducted by the Haqqani network with the help of the Pakistani government, which also provides safe havens to the Haqqanis.

Under Congressman McCaul's legislation, short of the Secretary of State's certification that Pakistan is not working with the Haqqanis, foreign aid to that country would be made available to fight the war against Mexican drug cartels along the southwest border.

"This war has been raging for years and we don't have a strategy, nor have we committed the resources to combat it," he said.

PTI