US non-committal on bill dubbing Pakistan state sponsor of terror

Washington, Oct 7 (IANS) The US is non-committal on a bill introduced in the Congress to seek to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Thursday declined to comment on the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (Republican), who is Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (Republican) on September 20.

“I have not seen anything specifically about the — such a bill, and obviously we don’t — I’m not going to comment on whatever pending legislation may be coming in that regard,” Kirby said in response to a question at his daily press briefing.

“What we — what I would say is common threat, common challenge in the region, and we’re going to continue to work with Pakistan, with Afghanistan, and the Secretary just came back from Brussels and the Afghanistan Conference in Brussels,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to work with — and obviously it’s a threat to the Indian people as well.”

The bill was introduced two days after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian army unit at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 19 Indian soldiers lost their lives.

India has blamed the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.

“Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years,” Poe said in a statement while tabling the bill.

“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,” he said.

According to Poe, the bill will require US President Barack Obama’s administration to formally answer this question.

“The President must issue a report within 90 days of passage detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism,” the Congressman said.

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

Poe said it was time the US stopped paying Pakistan “for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism”.

At Thursday’s briefing, Kirby said: “So, we’re going to continue to work with the governments in the region to try to address these common threats and challenges, and we’ve always said that more can be done about the safe havens and that’s — we’re going to, again, try to work as cooperatively as we can to that end.”



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