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US slaps sanctions on Taliban, Haqqani militants, asks Pak to deny safe havens

All property and interests in property of these militants subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and the US citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2018 23:11 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US,Taliban,Haqqani militants
Pakistani demonstrators gather during a protest against US aid cuts at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border post in Chaman on January 5. (AFP file)

The US has named six individuals as specially designated global terrorists for operating as financiers and facilitators for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, its Pakistan-based affiliate.

Some of them had worked in Pakistan and out of shelters across the border.

And a Republican senator, Rand Paul, has introduced a bill to block civilian aid to Pakistan, saying, “We fail our responsibilities to protect our country and properly steward taxpayers’ hard-earned money when we support countries that chant ‘Death to America’ and burn our flag.”

In a statement, Paul said: “Let’s bring that money home and use it to help rebuild our infrastructure instead of giving it to a nation that persecutes Christians and imprisons people such as the doctor that helped us get Osama bin Laden.”

Paul’s bill proposes diverting $1.28 billion from the state department and $852 million from USAID meant for Pakistan towards building highways in the US. It was endorsed in principle by President Donald Trump when the senator announced his intentions days ago. “Good idea Rand!,” Trump had written while retweeting a post from the senator announcing his plan.

Paul’s office said the bill will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who is co-chair of the India Caucus in the lower chamber, and Mark Sanford, a Republican.

The designation of the six financiers and facilitators of the Taliban and the Haqqani Network comes just after a deadly attack by the Taliban on a hotel in Kabul.

Abdul Samad Sani, Abdul Qadeer Basir Abdul Baseer, Hafiz Mohammed Popalzai, and Maulawi Inayatullah were designated for acting on behalf of the Taliban. Faqir Muhammad and Gula Khan Hamidi were sanctioned for acting on behalf of the Haqqani Network.

“This action supports the President’s South Asia Strategy by disrupting these terrorist organizations and publicly exposing individuals who facilitate their activities,” Sigal Mandelker, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “The Pakistani government must work with us to deny the Taliban and the Haqqani Network sanctuary and to aggressively target their terrorist fundraising.”

Some of the newly designated individuals had links to Pakistan.

Sani “was responsible for collecting donations from businessmen who were Taliban sympathisers in Afghanistan and Pakistan” and had travelled to Pakistan to collect $450,000 in local currency from drug traffickers.

Inayatullah was described as a “Taliban military affairs member in charge of multiple Afghan provinces”, and was a member of the Taliban shura based in Peshawar. Hamidi was said to have worked with al-Qaeda and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, helping them in their travels to or from Pakistan.

Senator Paul’s bill follows and seeks to build on a decision by the Trump administration earlier this month to suspend nearly $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan for not taking decisive action against terrorists operating from its soil, in this instance, in Afghanistan.

Paul is a long-time critic of Pakistan. In February 2016, he had introduced a joint resolution in the senate opposing an Obama administration proposal to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan at costs subsidised by US tax-payers.

First Published: Jan 26, 2018 12:27 IST