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Bill in US House to declare Pak 'state sponsor of terror'

11 March 2017

An influential US Congressman on Friday introduced a strongly worded bill in Congress to declare "untrustworthy ally" Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

"Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years," said Congressman Ted Poe, who is chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism.

"From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cosy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror - and it's not America's. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism," Poe said while introducing the bill, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2015, in Congress.

The bill requires the US President to issue a report within 90 days, answering whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State is required to submit a follow-up report, which says that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism, or a detailed justification as to why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation.

It's time for a "radical reset" with Pakistan, said Congressman Poe and James Clad, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia, in an article in dated 8 March. They say the US is in "a toxic relationship" with Pakistan and needs to "to finally set limits on its indulgence" towards Islamabad. The authors of the article are scathing about the US-Pakistan relationship. They describe it as a "weird psychology" at play.

"Pakistan has become a quasi-adversary, receiving hundreds of billions through the years in direct and indirect US support, a strange hostage-like arrangement in which we pay Islamabad to do what it should be doing anyway to protect its own domestic security and buttress Afghan stability," Poe and Clad wrote.

The authors can't get their heads around another bit of what they call "weird psychology". That is, the US looking the other way as Pakistan acquired nuclear-weapons capability even as it went "through the kabuki dance of annual nonproliferation certification".

How can this "weird psychology" be reversed, Poe and Clad ask in the article, and then suggest some ways to "put the toxic psychology behind us".

The authors emphatically believe the US shouldn't rush to bolster Pakistan's balance of payments via the IMF or other intermediaries, as they've done before. "Let China pay that, if the Pakistanis wish to mortgage their future in that way," they suggest mock-helpfully.

Essentially, the US has to change its accommodative stance on Pakistan, regardless of and independent of Indo-US relations. Whatever method the US chooses, "something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state", Poe and Clad conclude.

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