VLADIVOSTOK: The United States will designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, accused of some high-profile attacks, as a terrorist group, the US State Department said on Friday.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signed a report to Congress saying the network met criteria for a terrorist designation, the department said.
“Based on that assessment, she will notify Congress that she intends to designate the Haqqani network as an FTO (foreign terrorist organisation) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity,” a department official said as Clinton attended an APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia.
In a statement, the Secretary said, “The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with, the Haqqani Network, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organisation that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of US persons. These actions follow a series of other steps that the US government already has taken against the Haqqanis. The Department of State previously designated key Haqqani Network leaders under EO 13224, and the Department of the Treasury has designated other militants with ties to the Haqqanis under the same authority. We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organisation’s ability to execute violent attacks.” Secretary Clinton added that they would continue to work with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to move their efforts forward.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon welcomed Clinton’s announcement. “We welcome Secretary Clinton’s announcement that the Haqqani Network meets the statutory criteria for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224,” spokesperson George Little said on Friday.
“The Haqqani Network represents a significant threat toUSnational security and we will continue our aggressive military action against this threat. These new group designations will build on our efforts to degrade the Network’s capacity to carry out attacks, including affecting fundraising abilities, targeting them with our military and intelligence resources, and pressingPakistanto take action.”
Little added that these measures along with the designation will “strengthening our whole-of-government approach against the Haqqanis, we are supporting our campaign efforts inAfghanistanand further limiting the organisation’s capacity to destabilise the region.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior US official said that they had been in talks with the civilian and military leaders of Pakistan on the issue of designation in previous weeks. The official said that the Pakistani leaders did not express concern over the designation. The official said that they did not foresee the designation having a negative impact on US-Pakistan relations, but emphasised that they would be discussed in bilateral meetings with Pakistan in upcoming days in Islamabad and in the US.
A senior US official added that they will also be talking to government officials from countries where they believe the Haqqani Network has assets and urge them to freeze those assets.
The Haqqanis, a tribe with strongholds in southeastern Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, have been blamed for an attack on the US embassy in Kabul and other high-profile assaults in Afghanistan.
The United States accuses Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network and using it as a proxy in Afghanistan to gain leverage against the growing influence of its arch-rival India in the country.
Pakistan denies the allegations.
A senior Pakistani security official said blacklisting the Haqqani network would be counterproductive and put unnecessary pressure on Islamabad, a strategic US ally.
“If the United States wants to have a constructive relationship with Pakistan, then this is a bad move,” the official told Reuters. “This will push Pakistan into a corner.”
In June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan because of the safe havens that groups like the Haqqanis found there.
Designation by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation would bring sanctions such as criminal penalties for anyone providing material support to the group and seizure of any assets in the United States.
The Obama administration is facing a congressional deadline this weekend to determine whether the network met the criteria for such designation.
More in WorldCanada breaks off ties with Iran