US lawmakers seek ‘different approach' on Pakistan

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2015 10:51 IST

Influential US lawmakers on Thursday sought drastic changes in American policy to force Pakistan to get earnest with its counter-terrorism efforts, including punitive aid cuts.

They sought “travel restrictions, suspending portions of assistance, and sanctioning Pakistani officials that maintain relationships with designated terrorist groups”.

A “different approach”, in short, said House foreign affairs committee Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican, and his Number 2 Eliot Engel, a Democrat, in a letter to Secretary John Kerry.

Frustration with Pakistan’s anti-terrorism measures has mounted here since Osama bin Laden was found, and killed, by US special forces in Abbottabad on May 2011.

Islamabad’s efforts to show it was doing its bit has not impressed the US, and not India, as it tried to distinguish between good terrorists and bad terrorists.

“We welcome Pakistan’s recent announcement that it will soon ban the Haqqani network, but are skeptical that this will result in any real change to Pakistan’s policy,” lawmakers said.

“After all, groups like LET and JuD are ostensibly banned and still able to operate with virtual impunity. Just days ago, on January 25, JuD held a rally in Karachi that appeared to have taken place with government permission. Indeed, given Pakistan’s history of support for terrorist groups, we are concerned that an outright ban will never come.”

Hafeez Saeed, the JuD leader, carries US reward of $10 million for information leading to his conviction, but he has consistently mocked if appearing ins public.

Royce and Engel made that point in the letter saying, “while the Government of Pakistan has taken some steps to disrupt al-Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it has done much less to combat other designated foreign terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Muhammad.”

“This selective approach appears to stem from a misguided belief that some terrorist groups serve Pakistan’s foreign policy goals in India and Afghanistan,” they added.

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