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'Declaring Haqqani network as FTO would undercut its financial capability'

Washington, Sep 6, 2012 (PTI) 9:15 IST
Designating the Haqqani network a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US would undercut its financial capability, an American think-tank has said.

Under a Congressional legislation, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has to make a determination in this regard by September 10. Traveling in Asia, Clinton told reporters that she would meet the deadline.

Washington-based, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) yesterday published a detailed backgrounder titled, "The Haqqani Network: a Foreign Terrorist Organisation," in which its author Jeffrey Dressler, argues that financial capacity is a critical capability of the Haqqani Network, a fact that distinguishes it from other insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan.

"The Haqqani Network business enterprise, comprised of licit as well as illicit elements, extends beyond the region and into the Persian Gulf…. "The Haqqanis also maintain an international fundraising network which serves to resource their tactical and operational activities. According to the United Nations, Haqqani Network operatives maintain links to the Gulf states, South and East Asia, and possibly as far as South America," Dressler said.

FTO designation would effectively prohibit US business dealings with companies affiliated with the network, he said, adding that it would increase the network's cost of doing business, reduce its access to capital, and constrain the network's financial resources, thereby limiting their freedom to operate in a local, regional, and international context.

"Whether or not the Haqqanis will provide for a large scale reconstitution of al-Qaeda and their affiliates remains to be seen, but the network's past activities and current support for and protection of these groups in Pakistan demand that the Haqqani Network be treated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation," he said.

Meanwhile. the State Department has said that the US would continue to put pressure on the Haqqani network. "We've been pretty clear for a long time that the US policy is to put pressure on the Haqqani Network. That includes both the sanctions that we've put on individuals, but also military pressure as well.

"So we'll continue to target the Haqqani Network, but beyond that I don't have anything to announce or preview at this time," State Department spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell told reporters at his daily news conference.

According to the ISW report, the Haqqani Network has been an effective fighting force and proxy of the Pakistani security services for the better part of 30 years. "Pakistan's military relies on Pashtun proxies, such as the Haqqanis, to strike Indian targets in Afghanistan; to pressure the Kabul government to align their regional interests with the Pakistanis; and ultimately to expel foreign military forces," it said.

"It is also possible that the Pakistani proxy strategy is integrated into an overall strategy to contend with the threat of a large scale conflict with India. Currently, the Haqqanis are not only an effective proxy force to exert Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, but also have demonstrated the capability to rein in anti-Pakistan insurgent groups and even redirect them towards the fight in Afghanistan," it said.

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