US lawmaker confident of passage of his Pakistan terror bill
Ted Poe, a senior United States lawmaker, said Monday he was “very hopeful” of the enactment of a legislation he introduced last week calling for the administration to make a determination if Pakistan is a state-sponsor of terrorism, or not.world Updated: Mar 17, 2017 20:06 IST
Ted Poe, a senior United States lawmaker, said Monday he was “very hopeful” of the enactment of a legislation he introduced last week calling for the administration to make a determination if Pakistan is a state-sponsor of terrorism, or not.
This is the second time Poe, a Texas Republican who heads the powerful House subcommittee on terrorism, has moved this bill; the last one in September 2016 did not go anywhere, coming as it had in the dying days of that congress. Lawmakers were focussed on their re-election and the country was in the middle of a bitterly contested race for the White House
He has time now. And, in a marked contrast to his previous attempt, Republicans are in control of both congress and the White House.
The bill already has the support of many lawmakers, Poe told reporters in a conference call from Texas, adding he expected to see some lawmakers sign on as co-sponsors. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who had jointly moved the last bill, was on board already.
Poe also said he believed this White House “would be sympathetic to the bill” as it “just requires” a determination to be made either way; yes or no. And not, he stressed again and again, that Pakistan be named one. The very process of making that determination, if the bill was enacted, would be embarrassing enough for Pakistan. And if it was indeed designated a state-sponsor of terrorism, it would be subjected to limited financial aid, ban on defense exports and restricted access to dual use items.
Poe’s bill asks the president to issue a report within 90 days of signing the bill into law “whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism”. And the secretary of state should issue a follow-up report after 30 days either making a “determination that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation”.
The congressman himself seemed to have no doubts. “Pakistan is playing the United States,” he said, adding, “They take money from the United States but to support terrorism” And went to refer to Osama bin Laden found hiding in Pakistan.
There was absolutely no way, he said, echoing a widely held view in America, that “anyone can say that Pakistan, specifically the ISI (that country’s military intelligence service) did not know that Osama bin Laden was there”.
Though his legislation did not bring up Pakistan-based terrorists hitting India, he cited it among his reasons on Monday: “Pakistan fosters a relationship with terrorist groups as a way to leverage influence over its rivals India and Afghanistan.”
His September 2016, which he had introduced with another Republican lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, was moved just days after terrorists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad killed 17 soldiers in an attack on an Indian military facility in Uri.
Congressman Poe is an outspoken critic of Pakistan and a leading member of a growing group of lawmakers who have been calling for the US to get tough with an ally who they routinely call “duplicitous”, “untrustworthy” and a “frenemy”.
Day before Poe moved the present Bill, he co-authored an oped with a James Clad, a former Pentagon official, urging the new Trump administration to consider a “radical reset” of ties with Pakistan. “Something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon.”
Others have called for a similar rethink. A bipartisan group of leading experts on South Asia has said the administration should to be “ready to adopt tougher measures toward Islamabad”, even the threat of declaring it state sponsor of terrorism.
First Published: Mar 14, 2017 07:50 IST