Ac­tion against LeT may not be manda­tory for Pak­istan to get US fi­nan­cial aid

The Hitavada - - 2ND FRONT PAGE -

THE United States Congress is drop­ping ac­tion against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as a con­di­tion for Pak­istan to re­ceive hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars, ex­pos­ing the con­tra­dic­tions in Wash­ing­ton’s ap­proach to ter­ror­ism.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Rules Com­mit­tee on Mon­day ac­cepted the ver­sion of the bill with the omis­sion, paving the way for it to move for a House vote.

The Senate ver­sion of the de­fence bud­get bill had re­quired the De­fence Sec­re­tary to cer­tify that Pak­istan is tak­ing against both the LeT and the Haqqani Net­work and prose­cut­ing their lead­ers and op­er­a­tives, while the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ ver­sion men­tioned only the Haqqani Net­work.

The fi­nal ver­sion of the bill agreed to by the Con­fer­ence Com­mit­tee -- a panel of both chambers to smooth out dif­fer­ences -- last week dropped men­tion of the LeT, which was be­hind the 2008 Mum­bai at­tack, and sticks to the House ver­sion.

As much as $350 mil­lion would have been at stake were the LeT left in the bill.

The move to drop LeT il­lus­trates the con­tra­dic­tions and the com­pet­ing in­flu­ences in the US war on ter­ror.

It ap­pears to pri­ori­tise di­rect US in­ter­ests in Afghanistan, where its troops are de­ployed, and not in­crease ten­sions with Is­lam­abad by de­mand­ing ac­tion against the LeT, which pri­mar­ily tar­gets In­dia, de­spite US lead­ers warn­ing about Pak­istan­based ter­ror­ists.

In Au­gust, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum to Pak­istan against har­bour­ing ter­ror­ist “groups that pose a threat to the re­gion and be­yond” and warned of risks of con­flicts with In­dia due to ter­ror­ism.

The LeT is al­ready on the State Depart­ment’s list of banned global ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and the US put a bounty of $10 mil­lion in 2012 for the cap­ture of LeT leader Hafiz Mo­ham­mad Saeed.

More­over, the LeT and sev­eral of its front or­gan­i­sa­tions and lead­ers and op­er­a­tives are on a sep­a­rate Trea­sury Depart­ment sanc­tions list.

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