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U.S. lawmaker introduces bill to declare Pakistan ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

An influential U.S. lawmaker has sought a “radical reset” of ties with Islamabad and introduced a bill in the Congress that pushes the American government to declare Pakistan a “state sponsor of terrorism”, or give a detailed justification for not doing so in a limited time.

Congressman Ted Poe, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, introduced the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act (HR 1449) in the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

Introducing the bill, Mr. Poe said: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years.”

“From harbouring Osama bin Laden to its cozy 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,” the Texas lawmaker said.

“It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism,” he said.

The bill requires U.S. President Donald Trump to issue a report within 90 days, detailing whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism.

Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State is required to a submit a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is a “state sponsor of terrorism,” or a detailed justification why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation.

Separately in a joint piece in The National Interest magazine with James Clad, who was U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asia in the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Poe called for a “radical reset” of ties with Pakistan.

Arguing that all efforts to change Pakistan’s behaviour have failed, they said it was time that the U.S. “sets, unilaterally, the limits of its indulgence.”

Mr. Clad and Mr. Poe urged the U.S. government not to let the next crisis in South or Southwest Asia deflect America’s focus. “Don’t rush to shore up Pakistan’s balance of payments via the IMF or other intermediaries, as we’ve done in the past,” they said.

“Let China pay that, if the Pakistanis wish to mortgage their future in that way. (China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ infrastructure plans for Pakistan are running into big problems),” the two said in the piece.

They said, “Something must change in U.S. dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state, and it must change soon.” “Acquiescing in the current trends is not an option.”

“Changing our reactive accommodating stance vis-à-vis Pakistan won’t come quickly. But it must change — irrespective of trends in U.S.-India relations, which have steadily come to be on a sounder footing since the George W. Bush administration. There’s a tendency to think of Pakistan as part of a troubling duality, with India and Pakistan in a death spiral. That’s out of date—and we have our issues with India too,” Mr. Poe and Mr. Clad wrote.

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