US pressuring Haqqani as blacklist deadline looms

Published Sep 05, 2012 06:49pm

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The US Congress has been pressuring the Obama administration to slap the terrorist label on the Haqqani network. - File Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States is keeping up pressure on the Pakistan-linked Haqqani network, a US official said Wednesday, just days ahead of a congressional deadline on whether to designate it a terrorist group.

“We've been pretty clear for a long time... that the US policy is to put pressure on the Haqqani network,” acting US State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told journalists.

“That includes both the sanctions we have already disclosed, but also military pressure as well.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she will meet an obligation to decide by Sunday whether the Haqqani network should be considered terrorists.

US lawmakers have pressed her to blacklist the group, but some US officials have warned such a move could further fray already fragile ties with Pakistan.

US officials have linked the Haqqani network to some of the boldest attacks in Afghanistan including a June assault on a hotel near Kabul that killed 18 people and a siege last year of the US embassy.

Clinton last week declined comment on which way she is leaning, but said the United States was already “putting steady pressure” on the Haqqani network.

“That is part of what our military does every single day along with our ISAF partners,” she said, referring to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

“We are drying up their resources, we are targeting their military and intelligence personnel, we are pressing the Pakistanis to step up their own efforts,” she said during a visit to the Cook Islands.

The State Department has designated certain members of the Haqqani network as terrorists but has resisted blacklisting the entire group.

The United States has slowly been rebuilding cooperation with Pakistan, badly damaged after US forces found and killed Osama bin Laden living last year near the military's main academy.

Technically, however, Clinton is only asked to declare whether the Haqqani network meets the criteria of a terrorist group and is not being forced to make an actual decision on the designation.

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