US to Designate Pakistan’s Haqqani Network as Terror Group

Posted September 7th, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The U.S. has moved to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, a decision that could pave the way for tough financial sanctions against the militant group.

A senior State Department official says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a report to Congress Friday that says the group meets the criteria for a terrorist designation. There is usually a seven to 10-day period between a U.S. notification of intent and a terror designation.

The Haqqani network has been blamed for a series of high-profile attacks, including assaults on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last year.

The group, which has ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida, is reportedly based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area. It is also believed to have close ties with elements of Pakistani intelligence — a charge Pakistani officials have rejected.

Senior Pakistani officials say the U.S. decision could negatively impact relations between the two countries.

Several leaders of the Haqqani network are already subject to U.S. sanctions. Clinton faced a September 9 U.S. Congressional deadline for making a decision concerning the entire group.

Congress has been pressing to have the entire network branded a terrorist organization because it is now widely seen as the biggest threat to U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

However, some U.S. officials have expressed concern that placing the network on a blacklist could further damage already fragile relations with Pakistan and slow efforts to negotiate a political settlement to the Afghan war by undercutting talks with the Taliban.

Months of sour relations between the U.S. and Pakistan are only just now easing with July's reopening of crucial military supply lines across the Afghan border. Pakistan had closed the routes after 24 Pakistani troops were killed in a U.S. air strike last year.

The U.S. has been pressing Pakistan to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, but the Pakistani army has said its forces are stretched too thin to target militants in the tribal agency.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi on Friday welcomed any move by the United States to target the Haqqani network.