Islamabad, Nov 14: The US Congress has dropped ‘act against terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)’ as a condition for providing funds to Pakistan, reported Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper. 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, the report said quoting the ‘National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2018) for Fiscal Year 2018 Conference Report.’
The Lashkar-e-Taiba, founded by Hafiz Saeed, operates mainly from Pakistan, carries out terror activities in India and has training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Haqqani network, affiliated to Taliban, is a guerrilla insurgent group which focusses its terror 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 name shame Pakistan for giving safe havens to terror outfits like LeT and Jais-e-Mohammed.
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”, as reported by PTI in September. 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.
By delinking LeT from Haqqani network, the US sends a message to Pakistan and India that Afghanistan is their first priority. The New Delhi has been reaching out to world leaders to corner Pakistan on the issue of terrorism. India got major success in September when the BRICS countries including Pakistan’s all-weather ally China, signed a declaration for the first time that lists the Pakistan-based terror groups JeM and LeT as terrorist organisations.
The 43-page declaration of the 9th BRICS Summit equated the LeT, JeM and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the Islamic State or ISIS and Al Qaeda, and abhorred their acts. In August, US President Donald Trump had issued the sternest warning by an American leader to Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists. Trump said another pillar of his new strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia was a change in America’s approach to Pakistan, considered a long-time ally of Washington. “Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror….,” Trump had said.