US not branding Pakistan as state sponsor of terrorism
09 September, 2012
WASHINGTON: There is no move by the US to begin the process of designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, officials said on Saturday, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed the Congress that Haqqani network was being designated as a global terrorist organisation.
Such a statement from senior US officials, who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity, came as a top Pentagon official had last year termed the Haqqani network a veritable arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
"Why isn't this a step towards looking at Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism at this point?" a journalist asked senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the action initiated against the Haqqani network.
"I want to just unequivocally state that this in no way is the consensus, unanimous view of this administration, that we are making absolutely no effort to begin a process to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism," the senior administration official said.
"If anything they (Pakistan) have been an extremely valuable ally in countering extremism and terrorism, and we are committed to continuing and maintaining and increasing that coordination and cooperation," the official said when a journalist asked about the statement made by former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen to the US Congress that Haqqani network was a veritable arm of the ISI.
"With regard to chairman Mullen's comments, I hope you also remember that he took great strides at the time to say there was too much focus on the first part of his statement and not on the second part, which was that we had to continue that engagement, we had to continue our efforts. We are doing just that," the official said.
"So we have always said that we are troubled by safe havens that the network has in Pakistan and that we will continue to work together with the Pakistanis to squeeze this, and there's more that we can do. This is part of that ongoing effort," the official said.
Another senior administration official said that there had been a misperception that there was some kind of relationship between a Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO) designation and a state sponsorship one. "There is none," he asserted.
"I think it's important for people to understand that there's no legal relationship between these things," he added.
"In plenty of countries, we have had groups designated and it's never made any difference in terms of our deliberations regarding the bilateral relationship with that country, except of course to strengthen our resolve to work with them to deal with their extremism problem."
"So I think it's very important that that be fully understood," the official said.
Later a US State Department official said that the two were different issues. "The issue of state sponsorship of terrorism is wholly separate and completely different from designating individual terrorist networks," Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said.
"So there are plenty of places when individual countries that may have a terrorist network inside that are not state sponsors of terrorism."
"We've been concerned about safe havens. We continue to raise with the Pakistanis our desire for more pressure on the Haqqanis. It's something that we raise with them frequently, and we will continue to do so," Ventrell added.