Dawn News

WASHINGTON, Aug 12: US President Barack Obama has signed into law a congressional bill requiring the administration to declare the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organisation.

Diplomatic circles in Washington say the move will increase pressure on Pakistan to curb the group’s activities inside its border.

The United States and Pakistan had detailed discussions on this issue during ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam’s visit to Washington earlier this month, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

During these talks, US officials informed Pakistan that they might soon designate the Haqqani network a terrorist organisation “and were surprised when the Pakistanis offered no resistance”, said a source.

On Saturday, President Obama 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 designation as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO).

The secretary of state will have to send the report to Congress within 30 days.

The US House of Representatives and the Senate have both passed bills urging the secretary to declare the Haqqani network a terrorist outfit.

President Obama’s decision to sign the bill into a law will make it even more difficult for the secretary to further postpone the designation.

Once a group is placed on the State Department’s FTO list, all US allies are also required to join the fight against the designated group. A failure to do so allows the US administration to declare that country a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

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