A former Pentagon official has said that it is time for the Trump Administration to designate Pakistan along with Qatar and Turkey as state sponsors of terrorism. “It is time to hold Pakistan to account. If Pakistan then wishes to escape sanctions, it must imprison terrorists on its soil and cease any funding and equipping of them,” said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar with American Enterprise Institute (AEI), in an op-ed in The Washington Examiner.
Since 1979, the US State Department – similar to India’s Ministry of External affairs – has maintained a list of State Sponsor of Terrorism.
So far the Secretary of State has designated Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, Syria, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and North Korea as State Sponsor of Terrorism after determining that these have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
Over the years many of these countries were gradually removed off the list. As of now, three countries are on the list – Iran, Syria and Sudan.
However, Rubin, a former Pentagon official in his op-ed argues that at a time when the world is infested with terrorist activities, the US needs to return the terror list to its original purpose: calling out states which embrace terrorism, no matter whether they are US allies or not.
Three countries, he argued, deserves to be on this list. They are Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan.
Alleging that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has enabled and supplied the Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked groups inside Syria, Rubin said Qatar has not only become the chief banker to Hamas, but it also finances the most radical al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria and Libya.
“Pakistan has escaped the state sponsorship of terrorism list for far too long,” he asserted.
Alleging that leaders of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence openly supports the Taliban, Rubin said Islamabad continues to tolerate and support an array of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, which recruited the Times Square bomber, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2001 attack on India’s parliament and the 2008 slaughter of tourists at a Mumbai hotel.
“Nor is it credible that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, without senior Pakistani authorities knowing it,” he said.
Rubin observed that occasional Pakistani government crackdowns on these groups are insincere: Even for the most high-profile terrorists, Pakistani prisons have revolving doors.
Perhaps the Bush and Obama administration gave Islamabad a pass because they wanted Pakistan’s logistical cooperation in Afghanistan, but it didn’t work, he said.
“Turning a blind eye toward Pakistani terror support cost scores of American lives, even as Pakistani leaders received billions of US dollars,” he added.