US President Barack Obama has signed into law an act requiring the secretary of state to determine whether the Haqqani network meets legal criteria to be designated as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Passed recently by both the chambers of the US Congress -– the House of Representatives and the Senate -– the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 was signed by Obama yesterday amid repeated demands by US lawmakers to designate Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organisation.
The dreaded Pakistan-based outfit is accused of carrying out large number of terrorist attacks on American establishments in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul that left 58 people dead.
The State Department, which has slapped sanctions against some of the key leaders of the network, has so far resisted the move to designate it as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Although secretary of state Hillary Clinton had publicly announced late last year that sanctions against the outfit were on their way, the State Department is yet to make any official announcement in this regard and maintains that the process is on.
Congressman Mike Rogers, who is also the Chairman of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, had earlier urged Obama to "quickly" sign the act into law, holding that it was now "time for action to protect lives of US soldiers".
Early this month, a report by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) of the United States Military Academy (USMA), a prestigious New York-based institution, had said the Haqqani Network had continued to receive financial and logistic support from Pakistan military.
"In addition to private donors, the network has continued to receive financial and logistical support from the Pakistan military, and continues to maintain close operational ties with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)," the report, authored by eminent journalist Gretchen Peters, said.
The report said the historical communication logs between the Haqqani network and the ISI, which are now publicly available, suggested a link between the two.
It, however noted that the relationship between Haqqani network and the ISI is not that smooth and very often, there is friction between the two.
"Islamabad has repeatedly and vigorously denied it provides material or logistical support to the Haqqani network. However, Pakistan has resisted US pressure to launch military operations against the Haqqanis," the report said.
It also cited the then CIA Director Leon Panetta's confrontation with his counterpart in the ISI over evidence that Pakistani authorities had alerted Haqqani members ahead of a raid on an IED factory in North Waziristan.
"On the business side, it is hard to imagine that war supplies and other smuggled commodities, not to mention the funds that pay for them, pass through the remote North Waziristan agency, where all roads are manned by Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army checkpoints, without the collusion or at least tacit approval of the Pakistani government," it said.
The Haqqani network has a massive network of legal and illicit businesses which mirrors a mafia operation and in addition to raising funds from ideologically like-minded donors, the network, over the past three decades, has penetrated into key business sectors like import-export, transport, real estate and construction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Gulf and beyond, the report said.
"The network's resiliency can be credited as much to military prowess as to the Haqqanis' capacity to network with Pakistan's ISI directorate, other militant groups (in particular al-Qaida), and key religious figures," it said.