Obama paves way for Haqqani network to be designated as an FTO

Secretary of State has 30 days to submit a report on whether Haqqani Network ought to be declared terrorist outfit.

Huma Imtiaz August 11, 2012

NEW YORK: The US President Barack Obama on Saturday removed a key obstacle in labelling the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

President Obama on Saturday signed the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 into law. The law requires the US Secretary of State to submit a report on whether the group meets the legal criteria for being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

The Secretary of State will have to file the report within 30 days.

Many lawmakers in the US Congress have urged the Obama administration to designate the Haqqani Network as an FTO. The group has been accused of spearheading attacks on US forces and the US embassy in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration is reportedly reluctant to put the group on the terrorism list while US envoys are trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban that may have included the Haqqani network.

But in pushing for the measure, lawmakers noted that those talks have been halted since last year.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, called the resolution’s passage in July “a significant development.”

“The Haqqanis are engaged in a reign of terror in Afghanistan and the network poses the single largest threat for IEDs our soldiers face in that country,” he said.

“They actively plot and kill US and allied soldiers and routinely harm innocent Afghan civilian men, women and children in their path,” he said.

In June during a trip to Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta emphasised the key role the Haqqani network has played in numerous attacks and called on Pakistan to take action against it.