Clinton set to decide on Haqqani network's terror tag

Hillary Clinton
New York, Sept 1: The US is inching towards designating the Pakistan-based dreaded Haqqani network as a terrorist outfit, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announcing that she will report to the Congress in coming days of any decision on the issue.

Clinton, on a visit to the Asia-Pacific, was quoted by the media as saying that she would meet the Sept 9 Congressional deadline that requires her to state whether the Haqqani network met the criteria of a terrorist group. "I am aware that I have an obligation to report to Congress. Of course, we will meet that commitment," she said.

Citing US officials, the New York Times said the terror designation would help curb the Haqqani network's fund-raising activities in Saudi Arabia, UAE and other countries and put pressure on Pakistan to launch a military action against it. The officials said the issue of terror branding of the group had triggered a fierce internal debate in the Obama administration, amid fears that such a move might affect the already delicate ties with Pakistan.

The group has been responsible for deadly assaults on US bases in Afghanistan and Clinton along with top military officials is said to favour placing sanctions on it.

Congress has an almost unanimous backing on the issue and had approved a legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law on Aug 10. The law gives Clinton 30 days to determine whether the Haqqani network is a terrorist group. Opponents of such a move argue that designating the Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation could further complicate US-Pakistan relations just as they are getting back on track after months of gruelling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

Officials said "one reason is that such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism," according to the paper.


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