New US move against ‘Haqqani Network’

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A new bill introduced in the United States Congress has delinked the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) from the Haqqani Network. Through this, U.S. lawmakers are sending a clear message to Islamabad that fighting the Haqqani Network is their first priority. According to a report, the new U.S. Congress has removed a provision from the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018, which had connected the two. The removed provision would have required the U.S. Secretary of Defense to certify that Pakistan has taken steps to “significantly disrupt” the activities of both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network. This new bill is indicative of the United States desire to train its focus entirely on Afghanistan. However, since LeT is already a listed terrorist organisation, Washington will continue to ask Islamabad to stop the group from carrying out attacks inside neighbouring India.
It appears the US Congress has decided against including action against terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as a condition to reimburse Pakistan for its cooperation in the ‘war on terror’. The new version of the US bill authorising such payments to Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund, retains action against the Haqqani Network but has no mention of the LeT. The Haqqani Network, a deadly offshoot of the Taliban, focusses its terror activities on Afghanistan. The LeT – which is banned – carries out its terror acts in India; its founder Hafiz Saeed masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The decision to exclude the LeT may come as a disappointment to India, which this year has had success in getting global forums to name and shame India-focussed Pakistan-based terror groups like the LeT and the Jaish-e-Muhammad. In September, the version of NDAA 2018 passed by the US Senate said Pakistan must show “it has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e- Taiba from using any Pakistan territory as a haven and for fundraising and recruiting efforts”, reported PTI in September. Now, the `conference’ version of the NDAA 2018 – which is the bill that removes the differences between the Senate’s version and that of the House of Representatives – focusses entirely on the Haqqani Network. This joint version of the bill says that $350 million of a total $700 million in reimbursements won’t be given to Pakistan unless it takes significant action against the Haqqani Network’s safe havens, and its fundraising and recruiting efforts. The US Secretary of Defence must issue a certificate to the Congressional Defence Committees saying that Pakistan is taking this action.
In another move, the United States has asked Pakistan to abolish its blasphemy laws at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held in Geneva on Monday. Representatives from the US and the United Kingdom stressed on religious intolerance and human rights violations and abuses in Pakistan. While US representative Jesse Bernstein emphasised on the urgent need of an anti-trafficking law that prohibits and penalises all forms of human trafficking, UK representative Miriam Shearman agreed with the issue of Pakistan’s lack of freedom for religious minorities. The US representative recommended that Pakistan must “undertake, track and report” investigation and prosecution of security forces who commit human rights violations.
The UK representative recommended that Pakistan should establish an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities, who should be allowed to appoint their own representatives.
The Pakistan delegation was headed by Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif. However, Pakistan has freedom to refuse or accept any recommendation by the working group of the UPR. Pakistan will be announcing its decision on the recommendations it would accept on Thursday.
The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
It’s also a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries.