Tag Archives: Formal

Congress starts formal push to slap terrorist designation on Haqqani network

By Josh Rogin

State Department officials say that they are considering whether to add Pakistan’s Haqqani network to their list of foreign terrorist organizations, and now Congress is moving to force them to show their work.

“We are continuing to review whether to designate the entire [Haqqani] organization,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in September, only days after then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen testified to Congress that the group was directly responsible for a deadly Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul that left nine dead and 23 injured.

Mullen also said that the Haqqani network was a “veritable arm” of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier spy agency. That accusation encapsulates the State Department’s conundrum over designating the Haqqani network as terrorists: If it does, it is only one short step away from being pressured into naming Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terror, a move that would shatter whatever is left of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a show out of naming and shaming the Haqqani network during her recent trip to Pakistan in October. But does she really intend to designate it as a foreign terrorist organization? Several senators moved on Wednesday to force her to say one way or the other.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced on Wednesday the “Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act,” ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/08/congress_starts_formal_push_to_slap_terrorist_designation_on_haqqani_network

NYT: President Obama won’t say sorry for Pakistan soldier deaths

Obama Refrains From a Formal ‘I’m Sorry’ to Pakistan

By HELENE COOPER and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — The White House has decided that President Obama will not offer formal condolences — at least for now — to Pakistan for the deaths of two dozen soldiers in NATO airstrikes last week, overruling State Department officials who argued for such a show of remorse to help salvage America’s relationship with Pakistan, administration officials said.

On Monday, Cameron Munter, the United States ambassador to Pakistan, told a group of White House officials that a formal video statement from Mr. Obama was needed to help prevent the rapidly deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington from cratering, administration officials said. The ambassador, speaking by videoconference from Islamabad, said that anger in Pakistan had reached a fever pitch, and that the United States needed to move to defuse it as quickly as possible, the officials recounted.

Defense Department officials balked. While they did not deny some American culpability in the episode, they said expressions of remorse offered by senior department officials and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were enough, at least until the completion of a United States military investigation establishing what went wrong.

Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

On Wednesday, White House officials said Mr. Obama was unlikely to say anything further on the matter in the coming days.

“The U.S. government has offered its deepest condolences for the loss of life, from the White House and from Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, referring to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, “and we are conducting an investigation into the incident. We cannot offer additional comment on the circumstances of the incident until we have the results.”

The American and Pakistani accounts of the NATO strikes vary widely. A former senior American official briefed on the exchange said Wednesday that the airstrikes came in the last 15 to 20 minutes of a running three-hour skirmish, presumably with Taliban fighters on one or both sides of the border. That is at odds with the Pakistani account that its troops were in a two-hour firefight with the Americans.

Pakistan, rejecting the American account, has blocked all NATO logistical supplies that cross the border into Afghanistan, given the Central Intelligence Agency 15 days to vacate the Shamsi air base from which it has run drone strikes into Pakistani tribal areas and announced that it will boycott an international conference on Afghanistan’s security and development next week in Bonn, Germany.

With everything at stake in the relationship with Pakistan, which the United States sees as vital as it plans to exit from Afghanistan, some former Obama administration officials said the president should make public remarks on the border episode, including a formal apology.

“Without some effective measures of defusing this issue, Pakistan will cooperate less rather than more with us, and we won’t be able to achieve our goals in Afghanistan,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department official who specialized in Pakistan.

But David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official and the author of “Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power,” said Pakistani officials need to understand that in the next year, the Obama administration will be less accommodating to Pakistani sensibilities.

“I do think that it’s important for them to recognize that political dynamics in the United States will lead to a hardening of U.S. positions, and the president will have less and less flexibility to accept the kind of behavior that he has in the past,” Mr. Rothkopf said. “The prognosis for U.S.-Pakistani relations is bleak.” …

Read more » THE NEW YORK TIMES