After all the tough talk from the US administration and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Washington appears to be back at its old practice of not disturbing too many Pakistani feathers in one go. And its immediate goal post is clearly peace in Afghanistan. This much becomes clear from the reported US Congress decision against making funds to Pakistan hostage to action against the India centric LeT
US Congress has decided to not include action against terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as a condition to reimburse Pakistan for its cooperation in the ‘war on terror’, says a Washington datelined report in Dawn.
“The US Congress has removed a provision from the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 that would have required the US Secretary of Defence to certify that Pakistan has taken steps to “significantly disrupt” the activities of both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network. The new version has confined this requirement to the Haqqani network only, indicating a desire in Washington to focus entirely on Afghanistan as long as it takes to subdue the Taliban insurgency there,” the daily reported
The Haqqani Network is a deadly offshoot of the Taliban, and it focusses exclusively on Afghanistan, while the LeT is India focused; its founder Hafiz Saeed masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Only two months back both outfits were treated with the same brush by the US Senate when it passed the defence authorisation bill.
The proviso now stands dropped as Senate and House of Representatives work together to narrow their differences on the new law. It merely stipulates 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.
Well, this development does not come as a surprise to India but it does mean a set back of sorts to its efforts on the anti-terrorism front. More so after it has succeeded in global forums like BRICS to name and shame Pak -based India centric terror groups like the LeT and the Jaish-e-Muhammad.
Significantly, the US Congress has expressed concern about persecution of Baloch, Sindhi, and Hazara ethnic groups seeking political freedom and minorities including Christian, Hindu, and Ahmadi seeking religious freedom. Secretary of Defence has been urged to ensure that Pakistan is not using any assistance provided by the US to persecute minority groups.
—by malladi ramarao