In a move to tighten the screws on Pakistan, a private member’s bill wants our neighbor to be declared a terrorist state in the winter session of parliament
By Ramesh Menon
THE upcoming winter session of parliament will see the introduction of a private member’s bill which seeks to get Pakistan declared a terrorist nation. To be introduced by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an independent Rajya Sabha MP, the bill—“Declaration of States as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill, 2016”—said that Pakistan propagates and harbors agents of international terror who repeatedly attacked India and its people. “There is an urgent need to co-ordinate activities at the international and national levels to ensure the best response to protect India’s interests,” it said.
If the bill is passed by both houses and the President gives his assent, it will not allow people from Pakistan to travel to India, engage in trade, have financial transactions or conduct maritime activities in its territorial waters.
The bill says that the Indian government would oppose any loan or funds from any international financial institution to states that sponsor terrorism. India continues to remain diplomatically, culturally and economically engaged with Pakistan despite undeniable evidence to substantiate that it sponsored terror in India, it said.
The bill makes the following points:
- The strategic restraint practiced by India for the last decade has come at a heavy price as hundreds of its security forces and people have been killed in terror strikes.
- Pakistan continues to provide safe haven to dreaded terrorists like Hafeez Saeed and terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Jamaat-ud-Dawah, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Haqqani Network, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba and others.
- Pakistan’s proxy war against India has resulted in unprecedented economical expenditure.
- While the world has to recognize and declare Pakistan as a terror state, India must take the first step as it is the most affected.
The bill said that Pakistan poses a continual risk to the peace, security and stability of the region and so it wants to terminate and prohibit further economic trade, sports and cultural agreements with the country. It also prescribed repealing the Most Favored Nation Status to it and the Indus Water Treaty.
Chandrasekhar told India Legal: “While India looks at the rest of the world to condemn Pakistan for its terror-related activities, it must take the first step to declare it a terror state. I am in talks with various political parties to support the bill and am optimistic that it will come through.”
BILL IN THE US
Chandrasekhar’s bill comes after a similar one failed to make it in the House of Representatives in the US. On September 20, Congressman Ted Poe and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a petition which wanted to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. The White House archived the petition on the grounds that it did not meet its “signature requirements” even though it was signed by over 6,00,000 people. Apparently, most of them were Indians and not US citizens.
On October 7, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the US does not support the bill but would continue to work with governments in the region to eliminate safe havens which also pose a threat to India.
This bill had made the following points:
- After the September 11, 2001, terror attack, al-Qaeda leaders and the Afghan Taliban fled Afghanistan to Pakistan. Threat assessments of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo revealed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) facilitated al-Qaeda’s movement of fighters to and from Afghanistan as well as the terrorist organization’s purchase of weapons.
- Pakistan and the ISI provided a safe haven to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations.
- With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted various attacks against US personnel and interests in Afghanistan, including a 2011 attack on the US Embassy in Kabul.
- The founder and leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was found and killed in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad in 2011. Pakistan subsequently condemned the raid that killed the terrorist leader and continues to imprison Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who played an instrumental role in identifying Osama bin Laden’s hiding place.
- The Department of State’s 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism noted that Pakistan ‘‘did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban (the Haqqani Network), or substantially limit their ability to threaten United States interests in Afghanistan’’. The report also stated that ‘‘Pakistan has not taken sufficient action against other externally focused groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to cooperate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan”.
In a letter to Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice-President and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Chandrasekhar said that he intended to submit a resolution in the winter session in this regard.
The letter points out that this year alone, there were more than 25 infiltration bids from Pakistan in which more than 75 terrorists were killed. Even eight years after the 26/11 Mumbai attack where 166 people were killed, Pakistan continues to shield the guilty and recently executed attacks in Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Uri. Despite overwhelming evidence, the perpetrators were not brought to justice, he said.
At the BRICS summit in Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Pakistan as the “mother ship” of terrorism that posed a direct threat to the region’s prosperity. The Goa Declaration has called upon countries to ensure that their territories are not used for terror activities. India could not, however, include jihadi groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba in the statement as there was no consensus. MEA secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said that was because Pak-based outfits were focused on India and the other countries were not affected.
In his closing statement, Modi said that the BRICS member states were “agreed that those who nurture, shelter, support and sponsor such forces of violence and terror are as much a threat to us as the terrorists themselves”.
Meanwhile, jingoism continues to explode on television screens and social media while numerous ceasefire violations kill jawans on the Indo-Pak border. Daily reports of firing on the border indicate that there is no immediate solution in sight. Talks are in rigor mortis as both countries have adopted aggressive positions.
It is going to be a long, painful haul.
Lead picture: (L-R) The Taj Hotel up in flames after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks; Soldiers guard near the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in January this year, after an attack on it. Photo: UNI