Bill to label Pak terror sponsor tabled in US
A bill to label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism has been introduced in the US Congress by Congressman Ted Poe, the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism. Calling Pakistan an "untrustworthy ally", he said Islamabad "aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years." The bill is called the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2015.
The United States Department of State labels countries that allegedly "repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism" as "State Sponsors of Terrorism". Countries on this list are at the receiving end of several sanctions and restrictions. Iran, Sudan and Syria are three countries currently listed as state sponsors of terrorism by the United States Department of State.
The United States imposes sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism. These include a ban on arms-related exports and sales and a constraint on economic assistance. Exports of items that would enhance the country's capacity to support terrorism need a 30-day Congressional notification. Miscellaneous financial restrictions such as opposing loans by the World Bank, denying tax credits on any income earned in terrorist-listed countries.
India and other western nations like the US and the UK have alleged Pakistan to be involved in terrorist activities in India and Afghanistan. Retired general Parvez Musharraf told German magazine 'Der Spiegel' that "militant groups were indeed formed" to fight India in disputed Kashmir. In the year 2012, Defense Secretary of the United States called Pakistan a "haven for terrorists".
The U.S Country Reports on Terrorism defines terrorist safe havens as any area of a country that enables terrorists to "organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train and operate" without security threats "due to an inadequate government, political will or both."
An online petition on the White House website received 1.10 lakh signatures in favour of Pakistan being declared as a state sponsor of terrorism. This petition was initiated on 21st September, 2016, after the introduction of a Bill in the US House of Representatives demanding the same. This petition now qualifies for a response from the Barack Obama administration within 60 days.
'We the People' is an initiative by President Barack Obama that enables Americans to create and start petitions on the White House website and to qualify for a response if the petition reaches 100,000 signatures in 30 days.
The petition was created on 21st September, 2016, after Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher introduced the H.R 6069 -the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. It received 4,837 signatures in four days. The introduction of the petition stated, "This petition is important to the people of USA, India and many other countries which are continuously affected by Pakistan sponsored terrorism."
The White House is currently paying attention to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities with Pakistan. White House Deputy spokesperson, Mark Toner said, "Designating state sponsor of terrorism is a very specific process and determination that involves a legal process and assessment." "We do believe that they are making progress and taking steps to counter terrorist violence", he added.
A petition on the White House website to label Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism gained half a million signatures. This number is 5 times more than what is required to be eligible for a response from the Obama Administration, and has been achieved in less than two weeks. Supporters of the petition have set a goal of 1 million signatures.
Experts from influential think tanks have advised Trump's administration to keep the option of declaring Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorism open. The report states that efforts taken over decades to strengthen Pakistan's military have "encouraged elements in Pakistan that hope someday to wrest Kashmir from India through force." It is titled 'A New U.S. Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions without Cutting Ties.'