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US must freeze aid until Pakistan helps shut down Haqqani terror network: Think tank


October 15, 2011 - Washington

An influential American think tank has urged the Obama administration to freeze aid to Pakistan until it takes actions against perpetrators of the US embassy attack and helps shut down the Haqqani insurgent network.

The Pakistan-based Haqqani network of Afghan insurgents, which the then US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen had called a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's intelligence agency last month, was behind the attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13, The Heritage Foundation said.

Refusal by the Pakistan military to take action against the Haqqani network seriously undermines US and NATO success in the Afghan mission, the think-tank said in a factsheet, adding that Pakistan's support of insurgent groups in Afghanistan is the most significant obstacle to achieving stability in the region.

"Freeze aid until Pakistan takes actions against perpetrators of the U.S. embassy attack and helps shut down the Haqqani network. Congress is taking steps to condition all U.S. aid to Pakistan on certain counterterrorism benchmarks, which is a welcome tactic, but it may be insufficient, the factsheet said.

"Congress should investigate Pakistan's role in fomenting the insurgency in Afghanistan and the extent to which its actions are preventing the US and NATO from achieving their security objectives in the region," it added.

Noting that the increased tempo in drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas has severely downgraded the Al-Qaeda leadership and disrupted its ability to attack the US, the factsheet recommended that Washington should pursue the same kind of aggressive drone campaign against the Haqqani network.

It also urged the Obama administration to designate the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), saying that failure to do so following the embassy attack would signal US weakness and invite additional attacks on American interests in Afghanistan.

The factsheet said that Obama's aggressive withdrawal strategy to remove 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next September only reinforces the Pakistani view that the US will turn its back on the region.

"We cannot afford to leave a void the Taliban can again fill. We should make clear that the US will remain engaged," it added.

It also called on the Obama administration to pursue US supply options other than Pakistan for NATo troops fighting the war in Afghanistan.

"Half of all supply routes to the NATO mission go through Pakistan, which could cut them off at any time. The US should develop additional supply routes into Afghanistan to reduce that leverage," it opined.

ANI

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