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Stopping Pakistani Terror Act would designate Pakistan as the fifth nation in government’s State…

GovTrack Insider – Medium
2022 04 07

Stopping Pakistani Terror Act would designate Pakistan as the fifth nation in government’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA10)

Should the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last August change how we officially designate their next-door neighbor Pakistan?


The U.S. has balanced a complex relationship with Pakistan during the 21st century, described by some as “frenemies.”

Osama bin Laden was found there in 2011, with reasonable allegations that Pakistan helped shelter him. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in his 2019 book Call Sign Chaos, called Pakistan “the most dangerous” country with which he’d personally dealt.

As noted in congressional testimony by Zalmay Khalilzad — a former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations — “there is no question” that the Pakistani military and the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, have provided sanctuary and financial support for terrorist organizations including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The State Department maintains a list of state sponsors of terror, which currently includes four nations: Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. For many years, despite arguably clear evidence that Pakistan should qualify, no administration of either party added them to the list, choosing to look the other way as Pakistan assisted the U.S. in Afghanistan.

However, some say the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan last August changes the calculus, as the U.S. should no longer feel the need to pacify Pakistan accordingly.

What the bill does

The Stopping Pakistani Terror Act would officially designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism (even though the decision is supposed to be made by the Secretary of State).

It was introduced in the House on March 8 as H.R. 6993, by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA10).

What supporters say

Supporters argue that Pakistan should have made the list even before 2021’s U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“For decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had the dubious honor of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), wrote in 2019. “Any support for Pakistani counterterrorism efforts is wasted. Islamabad is no more sincere about countering extremism or ceasing support for terrorists than is Tehran.”

“While no administration has any illusions about Iran, it is amazing how many in the US government fall for the Pakistani government’s extortion racket: demand money to fight terrorists but never defeat them for fear of ceasing the gravy train,” Rubin continued. “Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism mandates a more serious response: Full designation as a state sponsor of terror.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that although Pakistan is hardly a model citizen on the world stage, to put it mildly, it’s better than at least several of their neighbors. With few allies in the Middle East, the U.S. shouldn’t risk the blowback with designating them as a state sponsor of terrorism.

With everything that is going on with Iran and the U.S., it would be extremely foolish of the U.S. to put Pakistan on the list right now and by doing so creating an additional enemy in this region that they have to handle,” Filip Areström of Linnaeus University (Sweden) wrote. “Even if Pakistan is not on the list, the U.S. has previously designated the country as a safe haven for terrorists and they have criticized the government for not being effective enough to live up to their national plan on terrorism.”

“But this is mostly words and does not get the same implications for the country as being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism would,” Areström acknowledged. “And for now, the best way to move forward for the U.S., when it comes to their war on terror and also the overall situation in the region, is probably to keep Pakistan off the list and try to work with them and instead of working against them.”

Odds of passage

The bill has not yet attracted any cosponsors. It awaits a potential vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

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This article was written by GovTrack Insider staff writer Jesse Rifkin.

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