The US Congress has dropped from the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 a provision that would have required the US Secretary of Defence to certify that Pakistan has taken steps to “significantly disrupt” the activities of both Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani network, a media report said Tuesday.
While the new version of the US bill authorising funds for Pakistan for its cooperation in the ‘war on terror’ retained the condition of action against the Haqqani Network but has no mention of the LeT, Dawn newspaper reported, quoting the ‘National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2018) for Fiscal Year 2018 Conference Report.’
The LeT, founded by Hafiz Saeed, is active in Kashmir while the Haqqani network, affiliated to Taliban, is a guerrilla insurgent group and focusses its activities on Afghanistan. The US Congress’ decision to exclude the LeT may come as a setback for India that has been running an extensive global campaign to against Pakistan for backing groups like LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed it accuses of numerous deadly attacks including the 2008 Mumbai carnage.
The last version of NDAA 2018 said Pakistan must show “it has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e- Taiba from using any Pakistan territory as a haven and for fundraising and recruiting efforts”. However, the ‘conference’ version of the NDAA 2018 – which is the bill that removes the differences between the Senate’s version and that of the House of Representatives – focusses entirely on the Haqqani Network.
“While the United States considers LeT a terrorist organisation, it also realises that the group’s main focus is Kashmir, not Afghanistan. Linking LeT to the Haqqani network, however, creates an impression that the US not only wants Pakistan to help it win the war against the Taliban but also wants it to change Islamabad’s position on Kashmir,” the Dawn report said.
“Since it already considers LeT a terrorist organisation, Washington will continue to ask Islamabad to stop the group from carrying out attacks inside India. But by delinking it from the Haqqani network, US policymakers are sending a message to Islamabad, that fighting the Haqqani network is their first priority.”