After Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement regarding the Haqqani network and its alleged links with the ISI, there is growing speculation whether the Haqqani network is designated as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO), it could lead to severe ramifications for Pakistan.
According to State Department officials, members of the group including Sirajuddin, Jalaluddin and Badruddin Haqqani have already been designated as terrorists by the Treasury Department.
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that while the US had already made designations against individual members of the Haqqani network, the organisation as a whole was being reviewed. “There are a number of legal things that have to go into making these designations, particularly when you designate a group as a whole, and you put a big blanket over a diverse network. That review is ongoing now and when we have something to say, we will say it.”
If the Haqqani network gets designated as an FTO, Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department intelligence analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan says that it will have severe ramifications for Pakistan. “Once you’ve said that Pakistan is, in fact, in league with Haqqani [network], if you make that point, then the next logical step is to say Pakistan is a supporter of non–state terrorism and that opens up all kinds of doors here, to sanctions, by not just the United States, but by the international community.”
What is the FTO designation?
Under the United States law, the Secretary of State, in this case Hillary Clinton, can designate an organisation to be an FTO under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to the law, the organisation has to be defined as engaged in terrorist activity, which also threatens the “security of US nationals or the national security of the United States”.
The law also stipulates that no one in the US can provide material support or resources to FTOs, nor can those subject to the US jurisdiction.
Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, says that by designating the Haqqani network as an FTO, the US is closing the door on reconciliation with them. “We’ve held out hope that the Haqqanis can be reintegrated into the new Afghan government.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.
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