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US brands Haqqani group as terror network

Designation may strain ties with Pak; Haqqanis say will harm American POW held by them

Written by Agencies | Published: September 8, 2012 2:01:17 am

The US said on Friday it is designating the Pakistan-based Haqqani network a terrorist organisation,which will trigger sanctions against a group US officials blame for high-profile attacks in Afghanistan,and which they say has ties to the Pakistani state.

The decision to blacklist the Haqqani network,announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a trip to Russia,could heighten tensions between Washington and Islamabad and have far-reaching implications for any reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Senior Haqqani commanders warned as much,saying it showed the US was not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan. The commanders said it would bring hardship for America’s only prisoner of war,US Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl,who is being held by the militants.

The US accuses Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network and using it as a proxy in Afghanistan to gain leverage against the growing influence of India in the country.

Clinton said in a statement that she had told the US Congress she will brand the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organisation,subjecting the group and its members to additional sanctions,including an asset freeze.

“We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic,military and intelligence pressure on the network,demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organisation’s ability to execute violent attacks,” said Clinton,who was in Vladivostok for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

A senior Pakistani security official said blacklisting the Haqqani network would be counterproductive and would put unnecessary pressure on Islamabad.

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